Statement by Dr. Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me at the outset to congratulate both Kenya and Portugal for co-hosting the Second Ocean Conference for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.
Our homes are becoming uninhabitable. Our farms are less arable. Our crops are dryer. Our health is declining and our planet is sinking. Our islands are shrinking and our beaches are disappearing. Our economies are losing and our water supply is decreasing. Our children are pleading.
Indeed, the future is no longer uncertain, on the contrary it is known. It has been known. The future is the protection of our ocean; our planet’s support system, and it is what we decide and commit to do here, in this Conference, that will ensure our survival or lead to our regression.
We have a historic opportunity to put the ocean where it belongs: at the center of our political agenda as a matter of human survival. Let us coordinate reliable multilateral efforts to implement Goal 14. Indeed, the indivisible character of all SDGs cannot be overstated for planetary survival and human wellbeing, including in terms of food security, which is a rising concern with inevitable disastrous humanitarian crises.
Therefore, we need unambiguous and innovative steps from expanding marine protected areas to sustainable fisheries management; from reducing pollution to preventing plastic waste; from protecting biodiversity and the marine environment to addressing the interrelatedness of climate change and its impact on the ocean.
The State of Palestine affirms that it has a long-standing commitment to ocean governance. We recall here that ocean governance treaties were the first international treaties of which the Palestine Liberation Organization, alongside other national liberation movements, played an active role in their makings.
The State of Palestine is also committed to the protection of marine ecosystem, and to the resilience of millions of the communities whose livelihoods and viability depend on them, including the Palestinian people themselves in the occupied Gaza Strip. We reiterate that Israel’s illegal occupation and inhumane blockade is the main hurdle to the enjoyment of development goals and is the main cause of the ongoing environmental crisis, making the occupied Gaza Strip unhabitable and its beaches polluted.
Palestine’s commitment to the oceans and comradery solidarity with the affected communities, stems from centrality, universality, and the unified character of UNCLOS as the main legal framework for all ocean-related activities. We emphasize here the role and the full and effective implementation of UNCLOS for all the targets of Goal 14.
The State of Palestine reiterates its calls on those States, who have not done so, to ratify UNCLOS. Likewise, the Paris Agreement on the adverse effect of climate change and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development are equally vital and the State of Palestine remains firmly committed to them and encourage others to do the same. We also call attention to the ongoing BBNJ negotiations as the most significant opportunity in the last quarter-century to ensure the application of equitable principles in the ocean and we encourage all States to engage in the ongoing deliberations in good faith.
A global vision rooted in national, regional, and local realities is needed. The developed countries have an unassailable responsibility towards protecting and restoring the ocean, including through financing, enhancing capacity-building, cooperating in marine scientific research, and mitigation and adaptation.
My Delegation is committed to ocean justice. We are committed to protect and restore the health, productivity, and resilience of the ocean and marine ecosystem, in accordance with international law, and look froward to take part in the deliberations, conversations, and negotiations.
Finally, the ocean regime must always strive to be the embodiment of our obligations towards humanity, future generations, and the earth we inhabit. It is about justice underpinned by the common heritage of humankind. Adherence to it is a must.