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Colombian Leadership On Oceans

In late October, the Colombian government demonstrated its country's global leadership on ocean issues by convening an event to discuss ocean health with officials representing Caribbean nations. The event, "Exchange of Experiences in the Caribbean Region for the Health of the Oceans," was held at the Naval Museum in Cartagena and included formal addresses by President Santos of Colombia and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

A large portion of the conference focused on the Ocean Health Index framework and results for Colombia. Officials showed broad support for the Index and for expanding regional collaboration on ocean health, as well as for jointly promoting an ocean Sustainable Development Goal at the United Nations.

Sandra Bessudo, Director of the Presidential Cooperation Agency, greets HRH Prince of Wales.

For 2014, Colombia received an Index score of 54 in overall health and a global rank of 204. It scored lowest in Tourism & Recreation (18) and Food Provision (23) goals but received high marks for Coastal Livelihoods & Economies (80). See entire scoring here.

The Director of the Presidential Cooperation Agency, Sandra Bessudo, spoke about how ocean health is essential for sustainable development in the Caribbean. She demonstrated her commitment to improving ocean health by calling on Colombia to increase its Ocean Health Index score by five points by the end of the administration’s term in 2018, bringing the score up to at least 59.

President Santos of Colombia remarked that the Ocean Health Index’s regional approach for oceans is vital for the Caribbean.

"Since 2012, we have had the Ocean Health Index that helps us to evaluate our countries' ocean and coast work. In the case of Colombia, the Index has caused alert because it shows that we need to advance on this front, and do so more rapidly. That is why we are strengthening the national ocean and coastal policy, and the Colombian Ocean Commission that defines the institutional arrangements for integrated marine and coastal management," President Santos said.

His full speech can be seen here (in Spanish).

In his formal address, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales stated:

"For any collaboration of this importance to work, robust and reliable data is the key factor. Knowledge of the real situation beneath the waves underpins any such collaboration and is a core ingredient when building partnerships. So, it is for this reason that today's topic of discussion, the Ocean Health Index, has proved to be such an important tool in focusing attention to the status of global ocean health, and in quantifying the quality of our natural capital. Using the Index can help us better protect it. Therefore I am greatly heartened by Colombia's effort to work through the issues highlighted by the Index, and its willingness to share this progress, both within the country at a high-level and within the region."  

Read his full speech here.

As a healthy ocean directly affects the economies, livelihoods and food security of coastal peoples globally, it is heartening to see strong government leadership, as shown at this conference. The high-level dialog and exchange that took place represent the determined and dedicated attitude of Colombia to implement change and find real solutions to achieve a sustainable, healthy ocean.

President Santos of Colombia, full speech:

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, full speech: 

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