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UN Climate Conference (COP27): The Ocean Race boosts support for ocean rights

by The Ocean Race 17 Nov 04:53 PST June 2023
Founding members of the first-ever Ocean Pavilion at COP27 hold the Nature's Baton, which connects the world´s key environmental events © Cherie Bridges / The Ocean Race

The Ocean Race is driving support for the recognition of the ocean's intrinsic rights with the goal of the adoption of a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights by the UN General Assembly by 2030 - this was the main message at one of The Ocean Race events held at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm-El Sheikh, Egypt.

"The Ocean Race is here to deep dive into the concept of ocean rights, meet different perspectives and discuss how ocean rights can make it higher into the global political arena," said Richard Brisius, Race Chairman, The Ocean Race, at the event "Ocean Rights to boost Climate Action at International Negotiations."

The Ocean Race - the round-the-world sailing event known as the toughest test of a team in sport - is playing a key part at the conference as founder of the first-ever Ocean Pavilion as well as host of three events that gathered policy-makers, youth, scientists and representatives from member countries to accelerate the recognition of ocean rights.

The Ocean Race joined a group of the world's leading ocean science and philanthropic organisations, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, which came together as co-founders of the Ocean Pavilion, hosting over 60 sessions over the two-week conference period to highlight the crucial importance of the ocean to Earth's climate and to efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change in the safest, most effective ways science can offer.

COP27 was also the location for the launch of The Ocean Rights Alliance, an innovative platform for companies and other stakeholders to get involved and contribute to the process through exploring ocean rights in corporate governance.

"One of the great things about The Ocean Race is that it brings together so many different players around the ocean and can accelerate and catalyse action for ocean conservation," said Lucy Hunt, Senior Advisor, Learning and Summits at The Ocean Race. For his part, via a video message, Pier Luigi Sigismondi, President, F&B Group, Dole Sunshine Company, stressed the importance of "setting a new framework, a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights, to help set the reference for good and proper ocean governance."

The Ocean Race team also held a series of high-level bilateral meetings, including talks with Monaco's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Isabelle Berro-Amadeï; and delegates from France, Ireland and the Pacific with a focus on joint promotion of ocean rights at the global level.

Speaking at one of The Ocean Race events, UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, described the action that is needed if we are to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees: "We have to take the sacrifices, get off this damn highway to hell that we are all so comfortably cruising at the moment. It is just not good enough. Think about what you are doing, think about what you are consuming, how you spend your money... Just take away all the names on a map of the world and you'll see: it's one ocean, and that's really important when it comes to ecosystems and fixing up all the wrongs that we are doing and of course rising ceilings."

Addressing the audience, Earth Law Center UN Representative and Focal Point Myra Jackson noted that we must include "the aeons of experience and knowledge that indigenous people hold and carry."

Xiye Bastida, Climate Justice Activist, Co-Founder of Re-Earth Initiative, said: "How do we bring the voices that have never been heard before, the voices of the ocean, the voices of the animals in the ocean?"

"We have to learn how to communicate and how to listen to the communities by the water, because those stories of survival are the stories that are going to help us imagine a world where we are not dependent on a system of destruction. In my language, the word for 'skin' is the same as the name of 'the outer layer of the Earth': when you hurt the Earth, you hurt yourself," she added in her remarks.

For her part, Minna Epps, Ocean Lead, IUCN, said: "We need to go beyond humans, and we really need to think about providing the same rights to the ocean."

Another event on "Connecting Climate Action with Ocean Rights, Human Rights and Corporate Rights" was held at the COP27 Climate Action Hub, with representatives from sustainable materials specialist Archwey, Dole Sunshine Company as well as UNFCCC Team Lead Joanna Post.

As part of participation at the Climate Conference, Relay4Nature, an initiative by The Ocean Race and UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, which involves the Nature's Baton passing between teams and global leaders was passed to the Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse as well as Gina McCarthy, first White House National Climate Advisor. Connecting the world's key environmental events, it champions the ocean and calls on leaders to take urgent action to protect nature.

Along the way, Nature's Baton has collected messages from a diverse range of influential voices, including HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, French President Emmauel Macron, US Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry, Co-Chair of Friends of Ocean Action and former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Isabella Lövin, and WWF Director General, Marco Lambertini.

Through its Racing with Purpose programme, established in collaboration with Founding Partner 11th Hour Racing, The Ocean Race has been working for over 18 months to build support with decision-makers and governments across the world for a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights, which would establish the ocean as a legal entity and put in place a global framework for protecting the seas. Draft principles on ocean rights are being created through the "Genova Process", which gathers experts in international law, diplomacy, ocean science and sport to drive the ambitious goal of giving the ocean a voice It gets its name from Genova, the city that will host The Ocean Race Grand Finale in the summer of 2023.

The Race is also getting the public onboard through the One Blue Voice campaign, with a petition for a Declaration that will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2023.

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