At the Our Ocean Conference (OOC) in Panama, the United States highlighted new and recently launched global initiatives totaling more than USD 800 million to protect our ocean and assist developing countries – from supporting the creation of marine protected areas and helping partner countries secure and enforce their marine resources, to improving the resilience of coastal areas to climate change.
These announcements include both official conference pledges as well as initiatives announced on the margins of OOC.
At the eighth OOC, the United States highlighted the nexus between the world’s climate and ocean, including the role of ocean-based climate solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve global climate resilience. The United States made 19 announcements of international support totaling USD 58 million under the climate change area of action. Under this issue area of the OOC, the United States announced:
- An intent to provide USD 5 million for the Resilience and Adaptation Fellowship Program for Rising Leaders, subject to Congressional notification;
- The adoption of a new policy under which the United States commits to preserving the legitimacy of maritime zones, and associated rights and entitlements, that have been established consistent with international law and that are not subsequently updated despite sea-level rise caused by climate change;
- USD 5.8 million for the Resilient Pacific Blue Economies Program to help Pacific Islands climate-proof their blue economies;
- USD 500 thousand to expand Diminishing Dengue in the Indo-Pacific with Climate Services – an Islander-led initiative developing climate-based early warning systems for dengue fever – across the Pacific Islands region, and to build connection and capacity through regional conferences and workshops;
- The selection of the first partners under the Green Shipping Corridors Initiation Project with Panama and Fiji/the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership; along with an intent to fund USD 1.5 million for the first phase of the Green Shipping Corridors Initiation Project (GSCIP), subject to Congressional notification;
- An intent to provide USD 15 million to expand early-warning systems in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS), subject to the completion of domestic procedures;
- An intent to provide USD 2.5 million to support climate resilience and sustainable development in SIDS through Local2030 Islands Network, subject to Congressional notification;
- Joining the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification and committing to drafting its national ocean acidification action plan;
- USD 2.7 million to expand early-warning systems in Caribbean SIDS;
- The launch of the Green Shipping Challenge, in collaboration with Norway;
- U.S. actions under the Green Shipping Challenge;
- Support for projects under the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance;
- Actions to help meet the U.S. offshore wind deployment goals;
- USD 4 million from NSF for research to understand dense water pathways that impact the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC);
- USD 3.5 million from NSF for research on ocean-located renewable energy development;
- An intent to spend USD 11 million for the NASA Biodiversity Survey of the Cape (BioSCape) Mission to better understand the distribution and abundance of biodiversity, the role of biodiversity in ecosystem function, and the impacts of biodiversity change on ecosystem services;
- USD 3 million for a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) coordinated multi-program effort to understand ecological changes and the resulting impacts on blue carbon ecosystems;
- An intent to provide USD 2.5 million to support the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030) through the Local2030 Energy Resilience Community of Practice, subject to Congressional notification; and
- An intent to provide USD 1 million from the U.S. Department of State for the Climate Finance Access Network, to support their expansion into the Caribbean region, subject to Congressional notification.
The sustainable fisheries issue area of OOC underscores the importance of biodiversity and long-term fish stock sustainability to protect food security and promote employment opportunities. The United States made five announcements of international initiatives totaling more than USD 610 million under the sustainable fisheries area of action. U.S. announcements included:
- An intention to request from Congress funding to support a new ten-year Economic Assistance Agreement with the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency in connection with the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (60 million per year, for 10 years);
- The signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Coast Guard and nonprofit Global Fishing Watch, to further transparency in the fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing;
- Over USD 8.7 million for Bersama Kelola Perikanan (Collaborative Fisheries Management) to protect marine biodiversity;
- Over USD 5.6 million for the PorLaPesca (ForFisheries) activity to reduce IUU fishing;
- Over USD 723 thousand for Tanggol Kalikasan to reduce IUU fishing and poaching, particularly in critical fish habitats in the Philippines;
Sustainable Blue Economies
Sustainable blue economies advance ocean health alongside economic prosperity, providing sustainable food, power, and transportation. This Our Ocean Conference issue area promotes sustainable and inclusive blue economic activities that create pathways to long-term blue economic development by addressing the range of stressors threatening ocean health. The United States made 10 announcements of international initiatives totaling more than USD 64 million under the sustainable blue economies area of action. The United States announced:
- USD 11.5 million from NSF for Sustainable Materials for Global Challenges in support of innovative “circular economy” approaches;
- The All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance (AAORIA) in collaboration with Argentina, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Canada, the European Union, Morocco, and South Africa;
- USD 30 million from NSF to tackle challenges related to the blue economy through the Convergence Accelerator Program;
- Over USD 3.4 million for the Conserving Coastal Ecosystems activity in Honduras to improve coastal ecosystem management;
- Over USD 13.7 million for Resilient Coastal Communities to improve the sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems in Mozambique;
- Over USD 726 thousand for the Implementation Project Philippines to improve coastal sustainability;
- USD 500 thousand for the Coastal Resilience, Carbon, and Conservation Finance (C3F) activity through the Climate Finance for Development Accelerator, which will partner with the private sector on activities that support coastal resilience, blue carbon, and biodiversity conservation;
- An additional USD 500 thousand for United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grants to Reduce Threats to Caribbean Biodiversity;
- An additional USD 2.2 million for the USAID’s Central America Regional Coastal Biodiversity Project to conserve biodiversity in targeted coastal-marine areas and associated upland ecosystems;
- An additional USD 1.4 million for the Women Shellfishers and Food Security activity; and
- NOAA is joining the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership for Sustainable Development (GOAP).
Marine Protected Areas
This issue area of OOC focuses on the importance of well-designed and effectively managed marine protected areas (MPAs) as tools for biodiversity conservation and management, as well as their contributions to sustainable development writ large. The United States made three announcements totaling nearly USD 8 million under the MPAs area of action. The United States announced:
- The first cohort of endorsers of the Ocean Conservation Pledge to conserve or protect at least 30 percent of their jurisdictional ocean waters by 2030;
- USD 6 million for Konservasi Laut Efektif (Effective Marine Conservation) to improve the management of national and provincial marine protected areas; and
- USD 1.9 million in grants and cooperative agreements to support coral reef conservation in the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, Micronesia, and Coral Triangle regions.
This area of action seeks to encourage international collaboration and create awareness among all stakeholders of the importance of creative and innovative solutions to help achieve a sustainable and secure maritime sector. The United States made 12 announcements of international initiatives totaling more than USD 18 million under the maritime security area of action. The United States announced:
- A set of actions and collaborations, pursuant to a MOU signed last year at the Summit of the Americas with the Governments of Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama, to strengthen the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR);
- USD 120 thousand for a West Africa-focused Global Counterterrorism Forum Maritime Security Implementation Workshop;
- An intent to provide USD 1.5 million to support the Export Control and Border Security (EXBS) Yemen Coast Guard Interdiction Capacity Building Project, subject to Congressional notification;
- The release of a Five-Year National Strategy for Combatting IUU fishing;
- USD 2.8 million in new assistance to the Global Defense Reform Program to enhance; maritime security;
- An intent to sign a new maritime law enforcement agreement with Papua New Guinea;
- In collaboration with the United Kingdom and Canada, the launching of an IUU Fishing Action Alliance aimed at increasing ambition and momentum in the fight against IUU fishing;
- The release of a new National Security Memorandum on Combating IUU Fishing and Associated Labor Abuses;
- USD 8.9 million for the establishment of the United States Coast Guard Southeast Asia Training Team (SEATT) to enhance maritime law enforcement, security, and interoperability in the region;
- USD 3 million for partner capacity building in the Blue Pacific for maritime security and maritime law enforcement;
- USD 2.19 million in support for maritime law enforcement and maritime security capacity building efforts through United States Coast Guard mobile training teams; and
- The signing of expanded operational procedures to complement the existing bilateral agreement with the Federated States of Micronesia to combat illicit transnational maritime activity.
The marine pollution issue area of Our Ocean Conferences raises awareness of global efforts aimed at reducing marine pollution of all kinds and restoring and maintaining a clean ocean. This area of action highlights the need for comprehensive approaches and a broad range of solutions. The United States made 8 announcements of international initiatives totaling more than USD 56 million under the marine pollution area of action. The United States announced:
- An intent to provide USD 500 thousand to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum’s Marine Debris Management and Innovation Subfund, subject to Congressional notification
- USD 10 million for the United Nations Development Programme’s critical mission to address the FSO tanker
- Over USD 1.1 million of funding previously provided as voluntary contributions to the International Atomic Energy Agency under the Peaceful Uses Initiative to the Agency’s NUTEC Plastics initiative to support a project with Indonesia on recycling plastic wastes before they can reach the ocean;
- Nearly USD 1 Million from the Department of Energy to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s NUTEC Plastics initiative, including a regional Latin America project on using radiation techniques to reduce the environmental impact of polymer wastes;
- USD 3.5 million from NSF for research into sea ice-ocean exchange of microplastic in the Arctic;
- USD 40.5 million for the Save Our Seas Initiative with the goal to eliminate plastic leakage into the environment by 2040;
- Support for capacity building engagements with Taiwan, Guyana, Nigeria, and Mauritius to strengthen oil spill preparedness; and
- Plans to participate in five international exercises to strengthen oil spill response preparedness.
The United States also announced:
- Appointment of Ambassador Jessica Lapenn as Senior Coordinator for Atlantic Cooperation in December 2022;
- Twenty-two nations’ endorsement of the Atlantic Cooperation Joint Statement, committing to explore opportunities to partner on a set of common challenges in the Atlantic Ocean region and to explore the development of a wider dialogue on strengthening cooperation in the region; and,
- An intent to establish a multilateral entity for Atlantic Cooperation in 2023.
Announcements at OOC may include new announcements as well as announcements made since the previous OOC.