Post-COVID recovery should lock in ocean sustainability, says Commonwealth Secretary-General

The Commonwealth Secretary-General is urging governments to ensure their countries’ post-COVID economic recoveries are environmentally sustainable and safe for the ocean.

Forty-seven of the Commonwealth’s 54 member countries have a coastline while 25 are either small island developing states or ‘big ocean states’ relying heavily on the ocean for food and income.

Sustainable blue and green economies

On World Oceans Day (8 June), Secretary-General Patricia Scotland calls on countries to reform development strategies in a way that supports vibrant and sustainable blue and green economies.

She said: “The ocean is the life blood of so many Commonwealth countries and our environment should be the cornerstone as we put plans in place to recover our economies. The Commonwealth covers more than a third of coastal oceans in the world, contributing to a global ocean-based economy valued at US$3 to 6 trillion per year.

“COVID-19 impact has radically altered some of our key economic sectors and transformed the way we live, communicate and do business. While the fallout from the pandemic has had a huge impact on our blue economies, it also presents a crucial opportunity to strategise on how to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable economic practices built on climate resilience and ocean sustainability.

“The Commonwealth Blue Charter is one of the most effective platforms for global ocean action in the international landscape today. I commend the work of our member countries through the action groups and welcome the support we have received from national, regional and global partners, enabling us to mobilise together for ocean health.”

Blue Charter action groups

The Blue Charter is the Commonwealth’s commitment to work together to protect the ocean and meet global ocean commitments. Ten action groups, led by 13 champion countries, are driving the flagship initiative. More than 40 countries have signed up to one or more of these action groups, and counting.

Commonwealth Blue Charter action groups include:

  • Sustainable Aquaculture (led by Cyprus)
  • Sustainable Blue Economy (Kenya)
  • Coral Reef Protection and Restoration (Australia, Belize, Mauritius)
  • Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods (Sri Lanka)
  • Ocean Acidification (New Zealand)
  • Ocean and Climate Change (Fiji)
  • Ocean Observations (Canada)
  • Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (marine plastic pollution – United Kingdom, Vanuatu)
  • Marine Protected Areas (Seychelles)
  • Sustainable Coastal Fisheries (Kiribati)

Members of the private sector, academia and civil society – including Vulcan Inc, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Nekton Foundation and many others – are also engaged as Blue Charter partners.

PAST EVENT: World Oceans Day – Mapping the Commonwealth one coral reef at a time

The Commonwealth is organising an interactive virtual event on 8 June to mark World Oceans Day.

The event will highlight the work of three Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups on:

  • Ocean and climate change
  • Coral reef protection and restoration
  • Mangrove ecosystems and livelihoods

Register for the event

Commonwealth Blue Charter

The Commonwealth Blue Charter is a commitment by all 54 member countries to actively cooperate to solve pressing ocean challenges and meet global commitments for sustainable ocean development. The Blue Charter is implemented by 10 action groups, led by 13 champion countries.

Partnering for coral reefs

The virtual event will also present the strategic partnership between the Commonwealth Secretariat and Vulcan to support critical decision-making to sustain, protect and restore coral reefs across the Commonwealth.

A new tool will help countries map, monitor and manage coral reefs, using satellite data and analysis provided through an interactive coral reef map to be hosted on the Commonwealth Innovation Hub.

The event will additionally premier a new short video about the Commonwealth Blue Charter.

Enquiries

For media enquiries, contact:

Josephine Latu-Sanft
Senior Communications Officer
[email protected]
+44 20 7747 6476

Coral mapping technology to accelerate reef restoration and protection in the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth Secretariat is joining forces with Vulcan Inc. to help member countries manage their ocean spaces via cutting-edge mapping technology.

Commonwealth countries are responsible for more than a third of the world’s coastal ocean, and 45 per cent of its coral reefs.

Harnessing satellite technology

The new tool will use satellite technology to create country-specific data and generate high-resolution images to help map, manage and monitor coral reefs in the Commonwealth.

Announcing the initiative on World Reef Awareness Day, 1 June, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The threats to the health of our ocean are numerous and can be perceived by governments as overwhelming, with 90 per cent of coral reefs at risk of disappearing within the next few decades as a result of climate change.

“That is why Commonwealth leaders launched the Commonwealth Blue Charter in 2018, which is a shared commitment from all 54 member countries to tackle urgent ocean issues together and by offering mutual support. Our partnership with Vulcan Inc, as well as with others in the private sector, academia and science networks, will work to translate our vision into meaningful on-the-water actions.”

Allen Coral Atlas

Building on the technology behind Vulcan’s Allen Coral Atlas – a public platform that converts data from a range of sources to generate detailed maps, images and alerts on coral reefs – a dynamic interactive coral reef map will be hosted online on the Commonwealth Innovation Hub. The information it contains will support marine ecosystem planning, management, governance and community action in member countries.

Chuck Cooper, Managing Director of Government and Community Relations at Vulcan said: “We have already lost 50 per cent of the world’s coral reefs which support the safety, well-being, and economic security of hundreds of millions of people.

The Allen Coral Atlas is helping to provide foundational data which inform critically important conservation efforts. Working with Commonwealth countries, we can change the trajectory of the coral reef crisis.”

World Oceans Day

The joint project will be unveiled with a special virtual presentation on World Oceans Day, 8 June.

This event, titled ‘Mapping the Commonwealth one coral reef at a time,’ will also feature presentations from three Blue Charter Action groups, focusing on:

  • Coral Reef Protection and Restoration
  • Ocean and Climate Change
  • Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods

The Commonwealth Blue Charter is implemented by 10 country-driven action groups that share experiences and coordinate action to tackle ocean challenges. The presentations will highlight how the groups work together and the importance of accurate and live data to support management decisions.

Register for the event