“This conference has proven to be an excellent opportunity to showcase what Bermuda has done to develop our Blue Economy and Marine Spatial Plan,” said the Minister of Home Affairs, the Hon. Walter Roban, JP, MP, following his attendance at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.
Minister Roban attended an event organised by the French Government to promote the SARGADOM project. This project will contribute to the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the high seas on the Thermal Dome in the Pacific and the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic.”
Minister Roban explained, “High seas governance has been described as an “unfinished agenda” – with a patchwork of organisations with competency over different aspects of high seas ecosystems. However, with the SARGADOM project, we are making progress in addressing this. Securing these two separate but complementary grants, one from the Global Environment Facility and another from the French Facility for Global Environment, will allow The Sargasso Sea Commission to undertake the first ecosystem diagnostic analysis of a high seas system.”
Minister Roban also attended the Blue Prosperity Leadership Forum, led by Wait Institute Founder and Chair Mr Ted Waitt, which brought together heads of delegations, key technical staff member and core Blue Prosperity Coalition partners. Ocean leaders set out how they are working towards achieving lasting marine protection and sustainable blue economies. In addition to Bermuda, Fiji, Samoa, FSM, Maldives, Tonga, Azores, Cabo Verde and Wait Institute’s founding partners – Ocean 5 and Oceano Azul, were invited to attend the event. Minister Roban shared with the other countries Bermuda’s success in developing our own Blue Economy and Marine Spatial Plan.
The Minister later spoke at the first session of the Blue Economy Investment Forum and at which potential new funding sources to support Bermuda’s blue economy work were explored. A senior journalist from CNN moderated the session, and Bermuda shared the podium with international participants World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Government of Kenya.
Accompanied by Dr Tammy Warren, Minister Roban attended a meeting of the Sargasso Sea Commission, the University of Brest and key stakeholders to discuss the work of the Commission and recent developments. At the meeting, Minister Roban lead a call to galvanise support for the Commission’s work and increase the number of member countries.
Minister Roban explained, “As part of the SARGADOM project, the Sargasso Sea Commission will also work with stakeholders to create a plan for the conservation and stewardship of the Sargasso Sea. With Bermuda located in the western part of the Sargasso, this project and increasing the number of member countries is important to all of us as it will help further protect our precious marine resources.”
Minister Roban and Dr Warren also met with two European Parliament members, Pierre Karleskind, Chair of the Committee on Fisheries and Catherine Chabaud, member of the Development, Environment, and Fisheries committees. Minister Roban advocated for the recognition and eventual support for EU membership of the Sargasso Sea Commission and their signing of the Hamilton Declaration 2014.
Following the week’s events, Minister Roban said, “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to represent Bermuda at the United Nations Ocean Conference. As a small island nation, climate change environmental protection and sustainability are vital to our future. This event has allowed me to meet and speak with leaders and influencers in environmental protection and sustainability about the urgent need to act now.”
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