Reflections from the United Nations Ocean Conference

Image © Anna Heath

By |2022-07-13T08:56:11+00:00July 13th, 2022|Deep-sea mining, Fisheries, Marine, Ocean, Oceans|Comments Off on Reflections from the United Nations Ocean Conference

Anna Heath and Camille Rivera

Anna Heath (left) with Camille Rivera from Oceanus Conservation.

How to scale up action for the ocean? This was the focus of the 2022 United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference, which opened in Lisbon, Portugal, on 27 June.

Our Programme and Partner Manager, Anna Heath, went along to support our partners and add Synchronicity Earth’s voice to calls for urgent action to tackle the critical issues that are jeopardising the health of the blue heart of our planet.

I was in a packed tent, bathed in blue light with a buzz of people around me. At the entrance, a huge crowd of people was waiting to get in but were being turned away. By the end of the event, everyone was on their feet whooping and cheering – surely this wasn’t part of an official UN conference?!

But yes, believe it or not, the news that three countries had joined the Alliance for a Moratorium on Deep Sea Mining turned a conference into the kind of ecstatic crowd you could find at a rock concert.

A buzz around deep-sea mining

A protest with placards saying 'stop deep sea mining' and a blue banner held at the front of the crowd reading 'Marcha azul'

Momentum has been building in support of a moratorium on deep-sea mining, which was the focus of protests around the conference and pledges within it. Image: IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

The event I was attending was the launch of a new Alliance for a Moratorium on Deep Sea Mining. It was hosted by the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, a long-term partner of Synchronicity Earth, along with the government of Palau and WWF. During the hour and a half session, three Pacific Island governments (Palau, Fiji, and Samoa) joined the alliance, and later on Guam also joined their ranks. The spokespeople representing these countries spoke inspiringly about the need for someone to take the lead, and how they hoped this would pave the way for further governments to follow. Later in the conference, other voices joined forces in speaking out against deep-sea mining, the most prominent being French President, Emmanuel Macron.

Throughout the conference, youth attendees were also drumming up a storm about the need to stop deep-sea mining. Their printed signs calling for no deep-sea mining were popping up all around Lisbon, including in the hands of Aquaman actor, Jason Momoa!

The buzz and energy against deep-sea mining at this conference felt like a very important waypoint on the journey Synchronicity Earth has been on with our partners for nearly a decade. We first started supporting work against deep-sea mining in 2014, when this issue was way down the list on the mainstream ocean conservation agenda.

To see awareness of this issue skyrocketing is a huge testament to the work of our partners in this space, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, the