Commitments Worth $10b Made at Bali Conference to Protect World's Oceans


OCTOBER 31, 2018

Nusa Dua. Participants in this week's Our Ocean Conference in Bali have made 287 new commitments worth $10.7 billion, an Indonesian official said on Tuesday evening after the end of the two-day event.

"The commitments involve 14 million square kilometers of protected marine areas around the world. These commitments are from 22 countries, about 25 to 30 nongovernmental organizations, private companies and philanthropists," Anastasia Kuswardani, head of the team reviewing the commitments, said at a press conference.

The fresh pledges will add to 663 previous commitments made between 2014 and 2017, of which only a third have been fulfilled completely.

Host Indonesia has made 23 pledges worth $500 million this year, compared with last year's 10, Anastasia said.

This year's 287 commitments are divided equally among six areas of action – a legacy for the future, sustainable blue economy, marine pollution, climate-related impact on the ocean, marine protected areas and sustainable fisheries, she said.

"On average, those commitments will be fulfilled in the next three to four years. There are some commitments due to be implemented over 10 years, but not too many; most of them are short term," she added.

Since commitments made at the Our Ocean Conference are not legally binding, it has been hard to track down and review the outcomes of those that have been made since 2014. Indonesia took an initiative after last year's event in Norway to start tracing and reviewing the outcome of each commitment made at previous conferences.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti urged participants in this year's conference to consider setting up a mechanism aimed at ensuring that these commitments are fulfilled.

"I want this conference to also make a clear commitment to transparency and to develop a concrete mechanism to evaluate the outcomes of commitments that we have been made," Susi said in her opening remarks on Monday.

The mechanism Susi referred to is expected to be launched at next year's Our Ocean Conference.

"We got a lot of inputs from Indonesia as well as other hosts on how to do it right. And we are going to deliver that to Norway at the end of this year, so it can be used for the first time in Oslo at Our Ocean Conference 2019," said Ramon van Barneveld, international relations officer at the European Commission.

Many parties, including Indonesia, hope the establishment of a review mechanism would eliminate commitments made in name only.

"Starting from this year's conference, each commitment was reviewed before being accepted," Anastasia said.