The Ocean Pathway

A Strategy for the Ocean into COP23 – Towards an Ocean Inclusive UNFCCC Process

A COP23 Presidency ocean initiative, the Ocean Pathway embodies the important relationship between the Ocean and Climate Change. The Pathway:

• Affirms the Call for Action from the UN Ocean Conference,

• Flags the possibility of a UNFCCC agenda item and a work programme by 2019 and ensures the insertion of the ocean into NDCs,

• Enhances the opportunity to support ocean health and maintain critical ocean ecosystems from current and emerging climate change funding under the UNFCCC,

• Supports existing priorities that affect and are impacted by ocean and climate including: sustainable transport, cities and human settlements, population displacement and migration, coastal infrastructure, marine ecosystem services, ocean food security and ocean energy,

• Strengthens mobilization and cooperation of the Parties for the conservation and enhancement of the resilience of ocean under the UNFCCC, and links existing ocean activities and partnerships through the introduction of the Oceans Pathway Partnership.

Please see an invitation to the High-Level event on 16 November below, as well as The Ocean Pathway Journey – the full schedule of Ocean Pathway events during COP23.

Launching the Ocean Pathway Partnership

The Ocean Pathway Journey – Schedule of Events

The Ocean Pathway Strategy

Fiji’s presidency is a voice for the most vulnerable countries that include small island and coastal states that are literally on the nexus of the ocean and climate change. A healthy ocean is critical to the economic, cultural and social wellbeing of vulnerable countries and a significant threat to their survival with the impacts of climate change including sea level rise, acidification and intense storms and weather patterns compromising their future.

Fiji and Sweden co-chaired the first UN Ocean Conference in June 2017 and the Call for Action underlined the urgency for a healthy ocean and the critical relationship between the ocean and climate. Action for a healthy ocean is action on climate change and vice versa. It is imperative that Fiji as President for COP23 ensures an effective and cohesive home for the ocean in the UNFCCC process.

Fiji as a Pacific Small Island Developing State (SIDS) also recognizes the significance of their role as Large Ocean States with more than 90 percent of their national boundaries made up of ocean. Fiji is also a member of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) in the United Nations. While SIDS representatives have held important positions within the UNFCCC process, Fiji is the first Island nation to hold the Presidency of the Climate Change COP. Embedding the ocean in the UNFCCC is an imperative for all SIDS and coastal states and Fiji’s Presidency of COP a formidable opportunity.

There is a consensus on the important relationship between the ocean and climate change in terms of management of carbon, the absorption of heat and regulation of global weather patterns. There is serious concern on the current degradation of ocean health and the impact of and on climate change. Climate change has negative impacts on the ocean in terms of acidification, warming, rising sea levels and de oxygenation. In addition to climate change, human induced changes threaten ocean health including pollution, habitat destruction and over harvesting. Action for healthy ocean and climate change is imperative to reduce the multiple stresses and threats to our ocean in regulating climate. The Fiji Presidency provides the opportunity to draw attention and momentum for this effort and urgently address the adverse impacts or threats that impair the ocean’s role as climate regulator.

Finally, the current acknowledgement of the ocean in the Paris Agreement falls under the recognition of the important role of ecosystem services to climate change and its role as a carbon sink. The ocean is the most critical of all natural ecosystems for our climate due to a combination of its composition and scale. There is no solution to global climate change without action on the world’s ocean. A special case for a healthy ocean and climate is established under this Fiji Presidency.