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Ocean Health Index at the UN SDG 14 Oceans conference

From June 5th through 9th, the Ocean Health Index team participated in the first UN Oceans Conference. Held in New York City, this conference was an unprecedented moment for oceans, the first time oceans have been solely featured on a global platform since the 1980 establishment of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The conference focused on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water: to conserve and use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. 

On Thursday, June 8 (World Oceans Day), the Ocean Health Index hosted a side event called, "An Integrated Value-Based Tool for Linking Human Uses and Needs of our Ocean to its Health." The event, held in partnership with Conservation International, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and the Stockholm Resilience Centre, featured open discussions on how the Ocean Health Index is helping nations track their progress toward ocean health and support human well-being. 

OHI side event at UN Oceans  Conference

Representatives from the more than 30 countries leading OHI+ independent assessments around the world spoke about their experiences in implementing the OHI framework and illustrated how the OHI can be used by all governments, regardless of capacity and resources, to immediately operationalize SDG Target 14.2 as well as positively respond to the other targets within SDG 14.

Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, OHI+ manager for Samoa, shared the value in the collaborative process involved in conducting an OHI+ assessment. She highlighted the Samoan Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's recognition of a more coordinated approach on ensuring ocean health for their region and its decision to utilize the OHI to help develop a cross-ministry ocean health working group. Ms. Jackson further highlighted the strength of the OHI in measuring economic, ecological and sociocultural elements of the ocean, which are of equal importance for Samoa as an island state whose well-being as a community and country is closely linked to the well-being of the ocean. 

Similarly, Admiral Juan Manuel Soltau Ospina from the Colombian Commission for the Oceans discussed Colombia's experience using the OHI as a rallying call to build a "Blue Agenda" and a working group for ocean affairs within the Colombian government. They have used the goals of the Ocean Health Index to identify priority actions through collaboration among a range of government agencies, research institutes and non-governmental organizations.  

The panel was led by Dr. Greg Stone of Conservation International, a founding member of the Ocean Health Index, and Dr. Johanna Polsenberg, Senior Director of the Ocean Health Index and Ocean Governance & Policy at Conservation International.