Dignitaries on the dais applaud the work done during the conference

The week-long United Nations Ocean Conference concluded on 1 July, with the unanimous adoption of the Lisbon Declaration “Our ocean, our future, our responsibility”, which recognized, inter alia, the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring marine ecosystems to deliver crucial services, including acting as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, reducing vulnerability to climate change impacts and supporting sustainable livelihoods, including for indigenous peoples and local communities.

The Heads of State and Government and high-level representatives gathered in Lisbon committed to scaling up marine nature-based solutions, ecosystem-based approaches to support the resilience, restoration and conservation of coastal ecosystems, including through public-private sector partnerships and capital market instruments, provide technical assistance and science evidence to enhance the bankability and feasibility of projects, as well as mainstream the values of marine natural capital into decision-making and address barriers to accessing financing, recognizing that further support is needed from developed countries, especially regarding capacity development, financing and marine technology transfer.

The International Partnership for Blue Carbon (IPBC), the Australian Government and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO co-hosted the official side event “Blue Carbon: Charting the Path for Governance and Partnerships” on 30 June, in collaboration with the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment of the Republic of Indonesia and Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative (IOJI), the Government of Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the World Economic Forum (Friends of Ocean Action).

In a clear demonstration of the high interest in blue carbon and the work of the IPBC, the conference room was at capacity with close to 400 people in attendance and many more watching online.  A recording of the event is available on United Nations Web TV.

A room full of people at the UNOC on Blue Carbon: Charting the Path for Governance and Partnerships event

Almost 400 people attended the blue carbon event

During the high-level opening segment, the new Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Water the Hon. Tanya Plibersek, welcomed the three newest Partners to the IPBC:

  • The Commonwealth Blue Charter is a commitment by all 54 Commonwealth countries to actively cooperate to solve ocean-related challenges and meet commitments for sustainable ocean action,
  • Blue Marine Foundation, a charity dedicated to restoring the ocean to health by addressing overfishing, one of the world’s biggest environmental problems, and
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts, a global research and public policy change agent that remains nonpartisan and dedicated to serving the public.
Australian Minister for the Environment and Water the Hon. Tanya Plibersek speaking about blue carbon at UNOC 2022

Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Water the Hon. Tanya Plibersek

Minister Plibersek also announced the winners of the first Call for Proposals of the Blue Carbon Accelerator Fund (BCAF) – established by Australia and IUCN to support the development of blue carbon restoration and conservation projects in developing countries and help pave the way for private sector finance.

Four project developers from Benin, Madagascar, Peru and the Philippines will receive funding and technical support to get their proposals ready for implementation and future private sector finance – adding to the international portfolio of credible, high impact and investment-ready blue carbon projects. All winners are deeply rooted in community-led efforts, each focusing on mangrove restoration and protection as a source for carbon credits alongside other environmental and social benefits.

Mike Rowe, Director for Marine and Fisheries at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced the launch of the Global Ocean Decade Programme for Blue Carbon (GO-BC), led by the University of St Andrews, Scottish Blue Carbon Forum, IPBC, the Blue Carbon Initiative and IOC-UNESCO. GO-BC will provide a robust evidence-base to protect and restore blue carbon habitats and build resilient marine ecosystems, from now until the end of the decade.

The demand for blue carbon projects for climate mitigation has grown rapidly in the last few months and it is partnerships like IPBC, BCAF and GO-BC that will generate credible action, as Dorothée Herr, Manager, Oceans and Climate Change at IUCN noted during the panel discussion.

Later during the day, the blue carbon community gathered for an evening reception at the Pavilion of Knowledge – Ciência Viva Museum, co-hosted by the IPBC, IOC-UNESCO, Scottish Blue Carbon Forum, Blue Carbon Initiative, Conservation International, IUCN and the Blue Marine Foundation.

A photo of people attending the evening reception for blue carbon at the Pavilion of Knowledge - Ciência Viva Museum

The Blue Carbon Reception at the UN Ocean Conference on 30 June 2022

During his opening remarks, Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the IOC-UNESCO announced the renewed partnership between Australia and the IOC for the coordination support to the IPBC.

A photo of Mr Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the IOC-UNESCO at the Blue Carbon Reception, UNOC 2022.

Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the IOC-UNESCO

In addition to the IPBC flagship events, several IPBC Partners organized or co-organized official side events on coastal ecosystems and blue carbon (Commonwealth Blue Charter’s “Building Resilience in Mangrove and Seagrass Ecosystems and Coastal Communities”, GRID-Arendal’s “Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Blue Carbon Markets” and Rare’s “Conserving coastal ecosystems for locally led livelihoods”).

As part of the official programme of the Conference, Interactive Dialogue 2 addressed the management, protection, conservation and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems, and included statements from a number of IPBC Partners, including Australia, the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, Norway, Monaco, the US and Fiji on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum.

A few technical workshops were organized on the margins of the conference, including the inception meeting of the GO-BC programme and the “High Quality Blue Carbon Market Principles Workshop” organized by the World Economic Forum Friends of Ocean Action, Salesforce, Conservation International, ORRAA, The Nature Conservancy and the Meridian Institute.

A photo of representatives from IPBC Partners the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, Silvestrum and Rare attending the Blue Carbon Reception at the UN Ocean Conference on 30 June 2022. © UNESCO

Representatives from IPBC Partners the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, Silvestrum and Rare attending the Blue Carbon Reception at the UN Ocean Conference on 30 June 2022