Commending Palau for Co-hosting 7th Our Ocean Conference with the U.S. [2022/05/18]
Palau and the United States co-hosted the seventh Our Ocean Conference in Koror, the largest city in the small Pacific island republic, on April 13-14. Titled “Our Ocean, Our People, Our Prosperity,” the event highlighted the importance of a healthy ocean to small island developing states−and to all communities where the ocean is a primary source of sustenance.
The conference brought together representatives of governments and non-state actors−including the private sector, intergovernmental organizations, academia, and NGOs−to commit to concrete action to advance ocean issues, including ocean-climate issues.
Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, I chose to stay in Tokyo and sent a video message to the event as chairman of The Nippon Foundation. Also sending video messages were U.S. President Joe Biden, Britain’s Prince Charles, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and former U.S. President Barak Obama.
In my message, I praised the outstanding leadership of Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. for co-hosting the event−the first to be held in a small island developing state−together with U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
“In the past, these global ocean issues were handled mainly by the big powers. But, to our delight, the Republic of Palau, one of the first island nations to be affected by the worsening ocean environment, has now been asserting significant leadership.
“It is Palau that has proposed extraordinary ideas such as the development of a sustainable blue economy and the creation of a marine sanctuary for the preservation of the ocean and now hosts the seventh Our Ocean Conference. I am very happy to see that the presence of Palau is gaining importance in the world.”
The Nippon Foundation has provided Palau with some 8.5 billion yen (about $ 65 million) worth of assistance mainly to help the Pacific island republic manage its marine sanctuary and beef up ocean national security. Our assistance includes helping train coast guard personnel and donating a 40-meter coast guard boat, the PSS Kedam.
I was told that President Whipps in his opening speech expressed his gratitude to The Nippon Foundation and our partner organization, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, for our assistance to the republic in addressing ocean issues.
The Our Ocean Conference was started in Washington in June 2014 by then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and held every year−in Chile in 2015, the United States in 2016, Malta in 2017, Indonesia in 2018, and Norway in 2019−until it was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Next year, it will take place in Panama.
The discussion has focused on six main themes−advancing marine protected areas, promoting sustainable fisheries, combating climate change, confronting marine pollution, creating sustainable blue economies, and achieving a safe and secure ocean.
The seventh Our Ocean Conference concluded with 410 commitments worth $16.35 billion across the issue areas of the meeting, according to the U.S. State Department.
The text of my video message to the seventh Our Ocean Conference can be seen here.