A debate will be held in Westminster Hall at 4.30pm on Monday 7 June 2021 on three petitions on subjects concerning animal welfare: Shark finning, puppy imports and ear cropping. The subject for the debate has been nominated by the Petitions Committee, and the debate wlll be opened by Elliot Colburn MP.
In 2008, the United Nations declared World Oceans Day for the 8 June every year as a “reminder of the major role oceans play in everyday life”:
They are the lungs of our Planet and a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere.
The purpose of the Day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.
According to the UN “the ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world”. It also estimates that by 2030 there will be 40 million people employed in ocean-based industries.
World Oceans Day 2021
Events for World Oceans Day will be held virtually in 2021, with the theme The Ocean: Lives and Livelihoods:
“The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods” is the theme for World Oceans Day 2021, as well as a declaration of intentions that launches a decade of challenges to get the Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”, by 2030.
Sustainable Development Goal 14 calls for improved protection of the oceans from the threats of overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification caused by climate change, while protecting livelihoods:
The ocean drives global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea.
Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. However, at the current time, there is a continuous deterioration of coastal waters owing to pollution, and ocean acidification is having an adversarial effect on the functioning of ecosystems and biodiversity. This is also negatively impacting small scale fisheries.
Saving our ocean must remain a priority. Marine biodiversity is critical to the health of people and our planet. Marine protected areas need to be effectively managed and well-resourced and regulations need to be put in place to reduce overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification.
A United Nations Ocean Conference was due to be held in 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal. The Ocean Conference has been postponed twice due to Covid 19 and is now due to be held in 2022. This is part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science which runs from 2021-2030.
UK Government priorities for ocean conservation
The Government set out its priorities for ocean conservation in response to a Parliamentary Question on 26 January 2021:
The Government recognises that a healthy ocean is vital to life and livelihoods on Earth. Ocean conservation and protection of marine biodiversity is particularly important for building resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change, as well as supporting mitigation.
That is why we are leading efforts to secure international agreement to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030 (30by30) as part of the new Global Biodiversity Framework. The framework is due to be agreed at the next meeting of the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2021.
To support this ambition the UK has set up and leads the Global Ocean Alliance and has joined the High Ambition Coalition as Ocean Co-Chair. The UK is also pushing for other ambitious and transformative targets as part of the new post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Marine biodiversity priorities include targets on ecosystem restoration, pollution reduction, sustainable use of biodiversity, reform and elimination of harmful subsidies and nature-based solutions.
We are also playing a leading role in negotiations for a new agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (the BBNJ Agreement). This would enable, in particular, the designation of Marine Protected Areas in the high seas – essential to implementing the 30 by 30 target. The final round of negotiations is planned for August and the UK wants to see an ambitious agreement concluded this year.
We have committed to establishing a new £500 million Blue Planet Fund using ODA to support developing countries protect the marine environment and reduce poverty. This will contribute to the UK’s commitment to spend at least £3 billion of international climate finance to protect and restore nature and biodiversity over the next 5 years.
Through the £25 million Blue Belt programme, we have protected over 4 million square kilometres of ocean around our Overseas Territories, ranging from the Southern Ocean to the tropics.Tackling climate change itself is vital for ocean health.
As COP26 Presidency we are pushing for ambitious and accelerated action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The following are a list of resources providing further background for the debate:
- UN Conference on Oceans Fact & Figures page and FAQ page
- The UN published its second World Oceans Assessment on 21 April 2021. The Marine Conservation Society produced an analysis of its findings.
- The Ocean Health Index, a framework for measuring how healthy oceans are, and includes a global assessment and measure of ocean health by country and high seas regions.
- World ocean day campaign to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030. This is part of the Campaign for Nature calling for a commitment to protect 30% of land and oceans by 2030 at the UN Biodiveristy conference due to take place in 2021. The UK is part of a High Ambition Coalition of 60 countries that have signed up to this goal.
- The Marine Conservation Society has produced an action plan to recover the oceans highlighting that “a third of our seas are called ‘protected’ – but they’re not; in practice, less than 1% of our seas are well-managed. They have also produced a facts and stats page.
- The UK Blue Belt Program ran from 2016 to 2020, and has since been extended to 2021, with a total funding of £27m. The programme supports the UK Overseas Territories to put in place long term protection. Its aim is “to deliver protection and sustainable management measures for over 4 million square kilometres of oceans around the Overseas Territories”. The Government published a Blue Belt Programme 2016-2020 highlights setting out details of several areas of work
- The UK Centre for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science page setting out its work on programmes in the UK and overseas, including the Blue Belt Programme.
- The Benyon review into Highly Protected Marine Areas examined the potential for creating these areas in UK waters. They would have a much greater restrictions on activities than the existing 91 areas designated as Marine Conservation Zones and other protected areas.
- The UK Government published a Voluntary National Review of progress towards meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This set out activities in the four administrations and abroad to meet SDG 14.
- Commons Library Briefing on Plastic Waste includes a section on plastic in the marine environment and covers both national and international policies to address this.
Tree planting policies aim to increase tree cover in the UK, improve biodiversity, reduce climate emissions and provide income from agroforestry. The England Trees Action Plan 2021-24 was published in May 2021.It aims to treble tree planting by the end of the current Parliament, funded by more than £500 million of climate finance.
The Environment Bill 2019-21 has completed it Committee Stage and had day one (of two) of its Report Stage in the House of Commons. This paper is a summary of what happened in the Committee and day one of Report Stage and how the Bill has changed. It considers key Government and Opposition amendments. Day two of Report Stage is scheduled to take place on 26 May 2021.