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Scotland urges govts to ensure post-COVID recoveries are environmentally safe

COMMONWEALTH secretary general Patricia Scotland has urged governments to ensure their countries’ post-COVID-19 economic recoveries are environmentally sustainable and safe for the ocean.

On World Oceans Day which falls on June 8, Scotland called on countries to reform development strategies in a way that supports vibrant and sustainable blue and green economies.

Forty-seven of the Commonwealth’s 54 member countries have a coastline while 25 are either small island developing states or ‘big ocean states’ relying heavily on the ocean for food and income.

“The ocean is the lifeblood of so many Commonwealth countries and our environment should be the cornerstone as we put plans in place to recover our economies. The Commonwealth covers more than a third of coastal oceans in the world, contributing to a global ocean-based economy valued at US $3 to 6 trillion per year,” she said. “COVID-19 impact has radically altered some of our key economic sectors and transformed the way we live, communicate and do business. While the fallout from the pandemic has had a huge impact on our blue economies, it also presents a crucial opportunity to strategise on how to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable economic practices built on climate resilience and ocean sustainability.”

Scotland said the Commonwealth Blue Charter was one of the most effective platforms for global ocean action in the international landscape today.

“I commend the work of our member countries through the action groups and welcome the support we have received from national, regional and global partners, enabling us to mobilise together for ocean health,” she said.

The Blue Charter is the Commonwealth’s commitment to work together to protect the ocean and meet global ocean commitments.

Ten action groups, led by 13 champion countries, are driving the flagship initiative.

The Commonwealth says more than 40 countries have signed up to one or more of these action groups, and counting.

It stated that Commonwealth Blue Charter action groups include: Sustainable Aquaculture (led by Cyprus), Sustainable Blue Economy (Kenya), Coral Reef Protection and Restoration (Australia, Belize, Mauritius), Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods (Sri Lanka), Ocean Acidification (New Zealand), Ocean and Climate Change (Fiji), Ocean Observations (Canada), Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (marine plastic pollution – United Kingdom, Vanuatu), Marine Protected Areas (Seychelles) and Sustainable Coastal Fisheries (Kiribati).

It stated that members of the private sector, academia and civil society – including Vulcan Inc, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Nekton Foundation and many others – were also engaged as Blue Charter partners.

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