(The spoken version shall take precedence)
There is one thing that every parent learns early on: never make a promise that you can’t keep.
Don’t promise to read a bedtime story and then cancel it.
Don’t promise to be there and then not show up.
Because if our children don’t trust us – why should they listen to anything we say?
But you know what we are doing? We are making some very bold promises to our children and grandchildren to take better care of our planet. Their planet. And – I have to be frank – at this point, I am not sure that they believe us. That is why we are here today: to earn their trust.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Friends of the ocean,
Many important voluntary commitments were made at the UN Ocean Conference in 2017. By governments, by companies, and by civil society organizations. I hope that during this conference, we will see many of them met.
There are also other promises that have been made, including the SDGs from 2015. The deadlines for several of these goals are approaching rapidly. This is an enormous challenge. And it demands of us more cooperation and better alignment of priorities.
At the UN Ocean Conference in 2017, I had the pleasure to introduce you to the SeaBOS initiative. When I spoke then, I talked about forest fires. How raging and terrible they can be, and how evident their consequences are.
I also spoke about the ocean, and the silent, invisible and deadly devastation that takes place underneath the surface – in contrast to the wild crackling of burning trees.
What I have seen since then is something that is truly inspiring. If there was relative silence about the ocean issues before 2017, I now hear diverse voices reaching the surface, speaking out loudly. There is no longer silence about the devastation. Instead, there are real conversations about what needs to be done, by whom, and how.
Local communities are taking action.
Governments are starting to become more ambitious.
And companies are starting to speak up.
The Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship initiative, SeaBOS, has brought together ten of the largest seafood producers in the world. They, too, have committed to work towards a sustainable future and achieving the SDGs.
They also made voluntary commitments at the UN Ocean Conference in 2017. In 2020, they developed these into a series of time bound goals. Today, we will learn how far they have come. Today, it is time to see the results.
And indeed, they have results:
They have made progress on how to address illegal fishing and challenges with labour abuse.
They have become more transparent as companies,
have engaged with plastics and antibiotics usage,
and they have set targets to reduce their climate impacts and negative effects on endangered species.
In short, they are making progress as leaders on a journey towards ocean stewardship. Their vision is not just baby steps, it is to become leaders of transformative change.
They know, I know, and you will learn today, that they still have a long way to go. But they are working together, with a shared agenda, and they are achieving results. They are delivering on bold promises, driving change towards a healthy and sustainable ocean.
I hope you will find their work as inspiring as I have.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We need to see action that inspires hope.
We need to believe that change is possible.
And we need our children and grandchildren to know, they can count on us.
That the promises we make, are promises that will be kept.