Statement by Hendrik Dadi Jonsson
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
As this is the first time our delegation takes the floor, we would like to begin by congratulating you on your respective appointment and reappointment as co-chairs of this twenty third meeting of the open-ended informal consultative process on oceans and the law of the sea. We wish to express to you our support for your stewardship over the discussions we will engage in in the coming week.
We thank the Secretary-General for an informative and extensive report, which has been useful groundwork in preparation for this meeting. Furthermore, we also convey to the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea our continuing appreciation and commendations for their excellent and important work in the organisation of this meeting.
At the outset, we would like to reaffirm Iceland’s support for the Informal Consultative Process, on which we place a great deal of both importance and expectation. The scale of the acute challenges that our oceans are facing and, as the focus of this meeting makes evident, the boundless opportunities which they hold require our discussions and action at the international level to be informed, cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary.
Our oceans are not a monolith which we can survey, discuss and address from a single perspective. Their inherent multiplicity necessarily means that ocean issues are dispersed across a myriad of different global, regional and sectoral fora. It is for this reason that the Informal Consultative Process is both unique and valuable. This is the thoroughfare where governments, scientists, stakeholders and innovators can converse thereby bringing new knowledge and shared lessons onwards into other fora.
Our oceans, enveloping 70% of our planet’s surface and harbouring up to 80% of its life, are under enormous stress. Stress from climate change; biodiversity loss; ocean acidification; pollution; and other grave challenges which threaten the habitability of our planet for present and future generations.
As the focus of our meeting reveals, the responses to the oceans’ challenges, and global challenges at large, may themselves be found in the oceans. Innovation in the development of new maritime technologies could hold opportunities to harvest the powers of the oceans to mitigate climate change, decarbonise the shipping sector, counter pollution and develop new renewable energy sources.
However, these opportunities cannot be brought to bear without bridging existing capacity gaps which result in research efforts being insufficiently funded and too narrowly concentrated in geographic terms. Enhanced and sustained efforts for capacity-building are essential to ensure the widespread research, development, uptake and implementation of new maritime technologies.
We anticipate that the exchanges which we will have in the coming days will serve as a reminder to us all of the significant value and importance of marine scientific research in addressing shared global challenges. It is the conviction of the Icelandic government that effective responses to the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, food insecurity and poverty may be crafted and deployed by sustainably realising the unrealised potential of the oceans.
As an island state dependent on the ocean, much of Iceland’s research and innovation relates to the development of new maritime technologies, in particular as a response to shared global challenges. As just one example, Icelandic innovators are coordinating joint efforts with European partners in the WHISPER project which works to support the onboard harnessing of wind and solar energy sources in the long-distance maritime transport industry.
Indeed, the challenges we face can only be addressed through successful international cooperation. In turn, international cooperation can only be successful where it builds on mutual trust fostered and underpinned by a rules-based international order. It is the right of all States to engage in marine scientific research, but it must be conducted for peaceful purposes and in compliance with other obligations, including relevant international regulations.
Iceland would like to reiterate our continued support for and commitment to the Law of the Sea, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is the cornerstone of international cooperation in ocean affairs; our Constitution of the Ocean.
In this regard, we are heartened by recent successes in the multilateral arena, in particular the finalisation of negotiations for an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
We are hopeful that the new BBNJ agreement, once adopted and in force, will be an effective, multilateral tool for conservation, sustainable use, capacity building and enhanced marine scientific research.
With all of the aforementioned in mind, we welcome the focus of this meeting on new maritime technologies and look forward to the discussions in the week ahead.