Preservation of oceans crucial for the future: Special Envoy for Climate Change

The Maldives' Special Envoy for Climate Change, Sabra Noordeen, has stated preservation of oceans is critical component in ensuring future climate action. She made the statement, while delivering her remarks at the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council’s 30x30 Webinar organized by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council in collaboration with the UN Patron of the Oceans and Founder of the 30x30 initiative, Lewis Pugh.

During her remarks, the special envoy accentuated that the Maldives is a big ocean state, with the ocean covering 99 percent of the Maldivian territory. She noted that the Maldives, like most island communities, is strongly reliant on the resources provided by the ocean which is why the 30X30 project to designate 30% of the world's oceans as Marine Protected Areas is so important.

Speaking further, the climate envoy emphasised the gravity of the climate crisis, highlighting the grave threat it poses to our ocean and stated the fact that we often overlook the ocean's importance as one of the world's largest natural carbon storage systems. In this regard, she stressed that the preservation of the oceans should be seen as a critical component in ensuring future climate action.

Furthermore, Sabra Noordeen stated that regenerative sustainability is critical to the Maldives, and that the Maldives’ pole and line tuna fishery is exemplary in marine friendly fishing methods. She noted pole and line methods are highly selective, have no discards, produce minimal or zero bycatch, and have no interactions with the seabed - all of which contribute to the conservation of fish stocks and the marine ecosystem. She also stated that the Maldives strongly advocates for sustainable global fisheries and outlined the recently adopted conservation management measures at the 25th Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission held this month as a step towards rebuilding the overfished yellowfin tuna stock and the long-term conservation of skipjack tuna in the Indian Ocean.

The special envoy further stated that in order to encourage fishers to continue using the ocean in a sustainable manner, conservation measures alone are insufficient, and that sustainability must not be penalized, but rather properly valued and rewarded in the policies of major international partners and by markets.

Furthermore, she went on to shed light on the Maldives' victories as climate advocates, including conservation measures such as the implementation of a shark ban, the establishment of the Baa Atoll biosphere, the campaign to phase out Single Use Plastics by 2023, and the implementation of a ban on the import of high leakage single use plastic products, which began this month.

During her remarks, the special envoy stated long-term investments in progressive climate action is a worthy ambition. She stated that for that reason, the Maldivian government has formed a five-year cooperation with the Blue Prosperity Coalition to create a Marine Spatial Plan to better support Maldivian blue economy activities, and map the utilisation of ocean resources.

In conclusion, the special envoy stated the challenges of conservation and implementing ambitious policies that produce benefits many years down the road are significant, and that it is a continuous process of consultation, advocacy and regulation to reiterate the importance of protecting resources.