Address by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14

GA am

Address By

His Excellency the Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe

to the

United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for Sustainable Development

United Nations, New York

5th June 2017


Madame President,

Mr. Secretary General,

Allow me to express my appreciation to those who have been responsible for organizing this conference – notably Mr. Peter Thomson – President of the General Assembly, the Governments of Fiji and Sweden – co-hosts of the Conference, the Permanent Representatives of Portugal and Singapore – facilitators of preparatory meetings and to the Secretary General of the Conference.

This assembly is part of a historic process – The collective international efforts to define and correct the depredations of humankind on the Planet Earth. It is a relatively recent effort, beginning with the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm and the Stockholm Declaration in 1972. Since then we have made much progress in recognizing the environment and its protection as the responsibility of all nations. We have largely accepted the connection between ecological management and the human condition. We have had many conferences, created many institutions. Public awareness and concern about the environment is wider than at any time in history. Yet with all these developments, we have still a long way to go to reach the optimum level of global environmental sustainability.

This is why the work and outcome of this conference is so important. The oceans constitute about 70 percent of the earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the earth’s water. If we do not make more progress on the oceans, the seas and maritime resources, all our other environment efforts will be difficult, if not impossible to achieve. In many ways then, this has vital significance for the future of humankind. The condition of the oceans, so well described in the concept papers and the discussions of delegates, enhance the urgency of our task.

As we proceed with our deliberations, there is an area which my government believes needs more attention. This is the organization of funding sources. For commitments to become reality requires not only sustainable programmes but also sustainable financing. Alongside corrective measures and technical developments, we need to create a sustainable ocean economy, new blue -industries including off-shore renewables, marine technologies, aqua cultures, clean-up and transition activities. Government financing and philanthropic support will probably be insufficient and we will have to encourage creative private public partnerships and other means to unlock commercial capital. These are ways in which we can mobilize new stakeholders and collaborators whose support will help ensure broader constituency for our endeavors.

The outcome of this conference and several like gatherings scheduled in the near future also must link to parallel concerns – notably the institutional legal framework contained in UNCLOS and its implementing agreements and institutions. My government and I personally have urged the adoption of measures related to the freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. We strongly believe that such measures will help to initiate a stable zone of economic progress that can eventually embrace larger ocean areas and will provide the stability that accelerates rapid environment improvement.Environmental interconnectivity can provide an opportunity for peacekeeping, peacemaking and development that will bring multiple benefits to several regions in and around South and Southeast Asia and the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Read more: