Tal av miljöminister Karolina Skog på Life Below Water - local implementation of UN goal 14 and KIMO Annual Meeting (engelska)

Malmö, 11 oktober 2017
Det talade ordet gäller.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their everyday livelihoods. As for the City of Malmö, the strait of Öresund provides huge recreational values for people, as well as economic income. It is at the local level concrete action can be - and is - taken.

Broad ownership among all actors in society is fundamental for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Ownership and participation need to develop and deepen over time. A shared commitment, built on knowledge and insight from the local to the national level, is necessary to reach the targets set in the Agenda.

This is why I truly welcome that Kimo and the City of Malmö invite us to discuss the role of local implementation of UN Goal 14.

***

It is the Government's ambition that Sweden will be a leader in implementing the 2030 Agenda – both at home and through contributing to its global implementation.

In June Sweden and Fiji initiated and led the first UN Ocean Conference. The Ocean Conference was a global manifestation in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, building further political momentum for a strong implementation of Goal 14.

In short the Conference brought three deliverables:

  • A "Call for Action" – a declaration that gave high-level political support to take further action on the implementation of SDG 14.
  • About 1400 voluntary commitments from stakeholders from all over the world. Mostly commitments came from governments, civil society and business. Not so many came from cities around the world. The site is still open for registration of voluntary commitments and I would encourage you to register your commitment!
  • Thirdly, the Conference, through seven partnership dialogues and more than 130 side events, mobilized a wealth of dialogues, initiatives, and ideas. Creative dynamic interactions between different sectors, which rarely cross paths, of the international community took place. It contributed to overcoming fragmentation and breaking down silos.

For a whole week prime ministers, ministers, business leaders, researchers, city mayors, NGOs and youth representatives gathered in the UN building in New York. The focus was on delivering action for the ocean, and together we came up with a long to do list.

In all discussions the importance of healthy oceans for the development of local communities – and the importance of local communities to take action for healthy oceans was very present.

At the Conference it was also very striking that although goal 14 was at the centre of discussions it was really a conference about the implementation of the whole Agenda 2030.

Goal 11 on sustainable cities is one of the goals that go hand-in-hand with goal 14. To take concrete steps towards sustainable cities – to deal with water and waste management – is crucial as to reduce marine pollution. Goal 12 on sustainable production and consumption go hand-in-hand with goal 14. To take concrete steps on how we use plastic materials like plastic bags links to how will be able to combat marine litter ending up in our seas. And of course, goal 6 on clean water and sanitation is intimately linked to the health of the ocean.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the Conference the Swedish Government made several voluntary commitments – to take action against marine pollution, increase the protection and sustainable use of the oceans.

One of the voluntary commitments Sweden supported at the Conference was the Unesco initiative to strengthen ocean literacy. Unesco is now working on an initiative named Ocean Literacy for all. It is a global initiative that aims to improve knowledge across the world's population regarding our global ocean. Importantly, it also highlights the close links between ocean and human well-being.

Ocean literacy is important in all stages of education.

Here in Malmö you have a unique source of knowledge with the World Maritime University. Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, the President of the World Maritime University will also speak at this conference. I look forward to your contribution in strengthening education on SDG 14 and Agenda 2030 in the years to come.

An important part of ocean literacy is reaching out to children! Today I have the privilege to take part in the inauguration of the Marine Educational Centre here in Malmö will take place. I hope this centre will be a pioneer in ocean literacy on a local level. I hope Kimo can play a role to strengthen the work on ocean literacy.

***

As a global leader, Sweden should of course be the first to implement its voluntary commitments on the ocean. We are taking broad action to implement all parts of SDG 14: reducing pollution, increasing protection of marine protected areas, combating climate change and taking steps towards sustainable fisheries, and a blue economy.

Let me give some concrete example on what we do to reduce pollution.
For next year the Swedish Government invests approximately 55 million euros to combat marine pollution, within three main areas:

  • We remove hazardous substances. This includes sanitation of ship wrecks recognized as acute environmental hazards, but also increased efforts to reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals in marine environments.
  • We increase the efforts to combat eutrophication. Among other things, we take measures to reduce the load of phosphorus in coastal bays, to restore wetlands and further the development of blue catch crops.
  • Finally, we focus on making plastic management more responsible. The action we take includes cleaning of beaches and support to the development of new, alternative materials.

***

Litter, micro plastics and hazardous substances in oceans and seas are spreading at a catastrophic pace. In order to prevent this approaching disaster for human development, we need strong efforts across all levels.

Already today we see great work taking place on local level to combat eutrophication and to reduce marine litter. To take the southern part of Sweden – Skåne – as an example – we see that great projects have taken place and are new projects underway. New wetlands have been constructed. The nutrient management in agriculture has improved.

To tackle eutrophication two things are crucial – local cooperation and effective measures. This is why we will focus on strengthening local project development, as well as on improving the knowledge about where measures are most needed. We should focus our efforts to where they can most effectively mitigate eutrophication.

When local authorities and municipalities take an active part in project management working together with stakeholders, great results can be achieved!

***

Let me come back to the issue of plastics and marine litter. I would like to thank KIMO for your letter on mircoplastics. The issue of plastics and marine litter is important in so many ways – not least because it is possible for people to understand it.

Plastic in the ocean is a huge problem, and it is an eye opener for people who previously might not have thought very much about the sea. Children, for instance, who see a beach covered in plastic bags immediately, understand that something is wrong. In next year's budget we therefore dedicate 3 million Swedish crowns to raising the awareness among the young – about the ocean in general and plastic in particular.

I would like to end by welcoming a very special bunch of guests welcome back to Öresund. I am of course talking about the bluefin tuna!

They serve as a powerful reminder: while there are many negative trends for the ocean, it is not too late to set things right again. You all know that many positive steps are already being taken, especially at the local level. But the potential for action for the ocean is even greater.

If we work together, and focus on concrete results, I am certain that the tuna will turn out to be more than a temporary guest. Let us use collective action to give them a warm welcome back. In that way, Mikael and his colleagues at the marine centre will be able to add tuna spotting to their educational program!