The Ocean Conference, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, comes at a critical time as the world is seeking to address many of the deep-rooted problems of our societies laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and which will require major structural transformations and common shared solutions that are anchored in the SDGs. To mobilize action, the Conference sought to propel much needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action.

With delegates from Member States, non-governmental organizations, and universities attending, as well as entrepreneurs looking for ways to sustainably develop the "Blue Economy", there are hopes that this event, held in the Portuguese city of Lisbon between 27 June and 1 July, will mark a new era for the Ocean.

At the conference, Bangladesh has reaffirmed Bangladesh's commitment to achieve all targets relevant to Sustainable Development Goal-14 - conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen delivered the country statement at the plenary session of the 2nd UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon on June 30.

Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rear Admiral (Retd) Md Khurshed Alam, Bangladesh Ambassador to Portugal Tarik Ahsan and other officials were the delegation members accompanying the foreign minister in the conference.

Momen attached importance to marine science for eradicating poverty, contributing to food security, conserving the world's marine environment and resources, helping to predict and respond to natural and anthropogenic events and promoting the sustainable development of the oceans and seas.

He said Bangladesh settled the maritime boundary issues with both the neighbours under the able leadership and guidance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and is poised to collaboratively utilize the resources.

To eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, Momen said, the government of Bangladesh declared an area totaling about 8.8% of its Exclusive Economic Zone as the Marine Protected Areas and implemented it in its National Plan of Action in 2019.

The government has amended Bangladesh Ship Recycle Act 2018 and set a target of compliance of the Hong Kong Convention by 2023, he said.

Bangladesh also announced new actions aimed at ensuring safe ship recycling by 2023 and is the first among the developing countries to take initiative to ban manufacture of single use plastic shopping bags.

Stressing the importance of capacity development and even distribution of scientific knowledge, he viewed that disparities in scientific capacity in terms of financial, technological, and human resources between developed and developing countries must be addressed for sustainable management of the ocean.

Momen affirmed that Bangladesh is ready to cooperate in keeping with its capabilities to actively engage with the developed countries willing to transfer marine science and marine technology on fair and reasonable terms and conditions in accordance with the provisions of part XIV of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Earlier in the morning, the foreign minister arrived in Lisbon on a two-day visit to Portugal to lead the Bangladesh delegation to the 2nd UN ocean conference 2022.

He was received at the airport by Ambassador of Bangladesh to Portugal Tarik Ahsan and other officials of the Embassy, representative of the host government as well as leaders of the Bangladesh community of Portugal.

Later in the day, the foreign minister visited the permanent Shaheed Minar situated at a public park of Lisbon, named at Campo dos Mártires da Pátria and paid his tribute to the language martyrs by placing floral wreaths.

Calls for Joint Efforts

Bangladesh has sought a joint blue economy approach to harness the untapped marine resources that can be useful in tackling poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, energy crisis and ecological imbalances towards strengthening the sustainable development process.

"Oceans are the potential and versatile resource-frontiers for humankind, but remain under-explored and unexploited," said secretary of the Maritime Affairs Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam.

Bangladesh along with some other countries co-hosted the event titled "Fostering international and regional cooperation in support of the sustainable development of the blue economy in LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS" organised by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) on June 29 on the sidelines of the 2nd UN Ocean Conference.

The vice-president of Tanzania, foreign and tourism minister of Tonga, minister of international development of Norway, ministers, high representatives and experts from the member states also attended the event, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Khurshed emphasized the need of fostering international and regional cooperation to develop strategies in support of the sustainable development of the blue economy in LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.

He elaborated that states and organizations in developing regions may not have the capacity to develop and manage their own shared marine resources, as they lack the necessary information, expertise or the financial capacity to follow through with planning and operations.

External assistance can be valuable, and sometimes essential, in establishing shared international marine resources arrangements, Khurshed said.

Panelists opined that regional and international cooperation is crucial to develop marine scientific knowledge and research capacity to leverage the benefits offered by the blue economy.

They said transfer of technology can create enabling conditions in the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS states to participate effectively in existing and emerging ocean sectors of the blue economy. Representatives also viewed strongly that strategic partnership is necessary for harnessing the benefits of the blue economy.

The seminar was wrapped up with commitments to forging wider regional and international cooperation, devising mechanisms for technology transfer and financing the blue economy.

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