The year of 2022 was not quite the Ocean Super Year that had been expected, however it was a year in which progress for the ocean was made, after the lethargy of the pandemic.

The One Ocean Summit, organised by President Macron in Brest, was a timely preparation for the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, in which the Oceano Azul Foundation played a central role as a UN Umbrella Organisation. The second UN Ocean Conference brought out a strong energy from international organisations and agents that work every day for the sustainability of the ocean. It also forced the various UN Member States to address the serious and ever-growing issues affecting the ocean.

The good news continued throughout the year. In Kenya, the decision of the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) to create an intergovernmental negotiation process for a legal agreement to combat plastic pollution which will have positive consequences on the heavy marine pollution caused by plastics and microplastics. Likewise, the decision of several countries, notably France, Germany, Fiji and Palau, to move towards a moratorium on seabed mining is very positive and critically necessary. The Oceano Azul Foundation has been working alongside several governments to contribute to this change.

At the end of the year, some very important stances were taken which the Oceano Azul Foundation congratulates. At the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP 15, it was decided that seabed mining will not happen without the necessary science to promptly assess the impacts of this exploration. Portugal’s position, made public at this International Conference in Montreal, is a positive step for a country that had not yet adopted a sufficiently clear position.

Additionally, during COP15 more than 190 countries committed that by 2030 at least 30% of the planet will be under the jurisdiction of special protection, namely 30% of the ocean. Rules of territorial basis were specified, such as Marine Protected Areas, which encourages the work of many organisations such as the Oceano Azul Foundation, thus reinforcing our efforts.

Finally, to close the year of 2022, the international ocean agenda received the best news about the adoption, by the UN General Assembly, in the week of Christmas Eve, of a resolution approving the third UN Ocean Conference, to be held in France in 2025. The Oceano Azul Foundation has already started working to make the 2025 UN Ocean Conference a decisive event in decision-making on the conservation and sustainability of the ocean, issues long being postponed.

For 2023, we need to focus on a list of priorities and channel our efforts and resources towards achieving them. The long-awaited conclusion of a United Nations High Seas Treaty is certainly the first of these priorities.

Tiago Pitta e Cunha