CORK, Ireland - Ireland's global leadership in sustainable ocean development and combating climate change has come to the fore at the Our Ocean Wealth Summit, to take place at City Hall, Cork on Monday.
The central theme of this year's summit 'shared voices from small island nations' focuses on the importance of protecting the world's oceans from the impacts of climate change, for island nations in particular, to ensure a sustainable long term future for the marine economy as a whole.
As evidence of Ireland's global leadership in this area, a range of interntational experts will be taking part, including former US Sewcretary of State, John Kerry, the President of the Seychelles, H.E. Danny Faure, Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, the Foreign Minister of Malta, H.E. Carmelo Abela, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness, and UN Permanent Representatives from a number of countries including Jamaica, Vanuatu, Antigua and Barbuda, Marshall Islands and Palau.
"As a small island, Ireland understand the threats climate change poses to our friends in the Pacific, Caribbean, Atlantic and Indian oceans. It threatens their very existence," the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney said Saturday.
"The 2019 Our Ocean Wealth Summit is a unique gathering of the voices of small island developing states, gathering here in Cork in the understanding that global problems require global solutions. Ireland strongly believes that we can only address this challenge of a generation if we take strong climate justice approach. Emphasising the needs and realities of those who have the most to lose, yet have done least to contribute to the problem, will always be a centerpiece of our approach."
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed added: "The already present threat posed by climate change is the key challenge of our time and we need to plan for the sustainable future of our marine sector in the context of global ocean challenges. The seas and oceans are the foundation of our marine sector and this year's summit will focus on the wider context of our shared global ocean resource and how to protect it to ensure a sustainable long term future for the marine."
The updated marine economic statistics will be published on Monday to coincide with the summit and are expected to indicate that Ireland's ocean economy has continued to grow significantly.
"We are well on target in terms of our initial ambitions for the marine economy set in the publication of our integrated sustainable development plan for the marine sector 'Harnessing our ocean wealth' in 2012," Creed said. "The government's commitment to the sector was underpinned recently by the approval of a Marine Planning Policy Statement which sets out the reforms underway to provide a modern, integrated maritime planning system. A Marine Planning and Development Bill is in preparation, and will sit alongside a Maritime Jurisdiction Bill and the National Marine Planning Framework. Together, these will provide a new fit-for-purpose framework for the decades ahead."
Minister Creed will also announce the publication of the annual Progress Report on Ireland's Integrated Marine Plan - Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, for 2018, at the summit. This report which contains inputs from across State departments and agencies, provides a wealth of information, spanning governance, research, education, international cooperation, business development, sustainability and protection and conservation of marine ecosystems. The annual 'Our Ocean Wealth Summit'; forms a key part of the Itish government's integrated plan for the country's marine sector and brings together national and international expert speakers, industry leaders, business development agencies and the Irish business and marine research community.
Monday's Our Ocean Wealth Summit, and SeaFest (National Marine Festival), which took place ahead of the summit over Saturday and Sunday, are initiatives of the Inter-Departmental Marine Coordination Group, which is chaired by Minister Creed.
The OOW summit and SeaFest are co-funded by the government of Ireland and the European Union under Ireland's European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme for the seafood sector.
A seafood banquet was held for the attendees in advance of the summit on Sunday night where Coveney and Creed gave addresses. A full programme was set down Monday for the summit which was scheduled to begin at 8:00am with registrations at City Hall, Cork (pictured).