Sustainable Ocean Development

Sustainable Ocean Development
SDGs, SSF Guidelines, and preparing for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

Prepared by: Terhemba Ambe-Uva, Jack Daly, Partha Debnath, Tonmoy Ghosh, Poppy Keough, Christine Knott and Gerald Singh*

The United Nations (UN) Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, beginning next year (2021) and currently in the preparatory phase, will facilitate global communication and mutual learning across research and stakeholder communities to deliver science-based management for the globe’s ocean space and marine resources. Further, 2022 will be the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture serving to elevate small-scale fishermen and women, an initiative which will be led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

This next decade offers an important platform for marine science and sustainable ocean development, and also coincides with the recent implementation of two international policy instruments. First, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which put forth the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) with 169 corresponding targets. These goals are wide-ranging and seek to realize human equality for all, achieve environmental sustainability, and create economies that lift people out of poverty. One goal, Life Below Water (SDG 14) seeks to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

The second policy instrument is the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) which was implemented in 2017 by the FAO. The SSF Guidelines, a complement to the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, seek to provide complementary guidance with respect to small-scale fisheries.

Since the success of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will, in part, depend on the extent to which States implement policies supporting the UN SDGs and SSF Guidelines, we’ve focused on both Canada (Federal and Provincial level), as well as Small-Island Developing States (SIDS) and Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs) to see how they’re implementing the policy instruments mentioned above.

To do this we did a rapid scan of policies in Canada, looking at federal fisheries and oceans policies as well as provincial and municipal documents related to either ocean science, sustainable development or small-scale (or inshore) fisheries. We also captured documents regarding how SIDS and LDCS are incorporating SDGs or SSF Guidelines, as well as digitized matrices showing interlinkages and trade-offs of SDGs for select countries in Asia, Africa and the Pacific rim.

Our group is now in the planning process for how to analyze these documents in preparation for larger work examining synergies and trade-offs between SDGs and the SSF Guidelines in the context of Sustainable Ocean Development. This work will aid in assessing the extent to which SDGs and SSF Guidelines result in synergies, trade-offs or a combination of both for States as they attempt to implement these instruments.

* The students and research assistant on this team are funded through the Nippon Foundation Nereus Program.