Ocean Race Summit kicks off in Seychelles - Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights proposed
During the summit, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, relayed the Nature's Baton, the symbol of Relay4Nature, to Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan. (Seychelles Nation)
Work to establish a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights kicked off in Seychelles during an Ocean Race Summit held on Monday at the Eden Bleu Hotel.
The Ocean Race Summit Seychelles, which is part of a series of 12 races, was organised by The Ocean Race in collaboration with the Danny Faure Foundation, set up by former Seychelles' President, who led the country between October 2016 and October 2020. The summit will address the lack of governance and protection for oceans and establish instances where the ocean should have a set of rights.
One of the world's toughest sailing events, the Ocean Race, sees the elites of the sailing world battle it out in a nine-month marathon passing through four oceans and around five continents.
A first of its kind, the declaration aims at creating a collective global effort for the protection of oceans. It will outline the value and rights of the ocean ensuring that it is protected. The declaration also seeks to ensure that any activity carried out within any of the world's oceans is done sustainably.
A board member of the Danny Faure Foundation, Alain de Commarmond, told the press that through Ocean Race, countries where these summits are held, will become champions that will push the agenda.
"Following the summit, work will be carried out on a document that will eventually be submitted. If everything goes well, the first submission will take place in September this year at the United Nations General Assembly. This will be the first phase," said de Commarmond.
According to the organisers of the initiative, for ocean rights to be achieved, there is the need for the idea to be embraced on a global level. By gathering the support of key decision-makers and ocean advocates all over the world, the Ocean Race is working towards that goal.
Ocean Race's chairman Richard Brisius outlined in his address that there is a need for better governance and management of the ocean that will "allow the ocean to thrive, and allow for a sustainable blue economy for all of us and our future generations."
The Danny Faure Foundation also announced the development of a new regional initiative - the Western Indian Ocean Resilience and Prosperity Initiative.
The first of its kind globally, the initiative aims to ensure sustainable ocean development and science-based management and protection within the region.
"It is an initiative that the foundation is working on together with its partners - The Nekton Mission and the government of Seychelles. Just like efforts are being made on a global level, we at the foundation worked on a concept to cover the Western Indian Ocean, covering eastern African countries and islands of the Indian Ocean Commission to have a regional policy for the ocean," said de Commarmond.
The initiative was adopted by countries in the region in November 2021 during a regional meeting. The foundation, together with its partners, currently needs to raise funds and look for partnerships to obtain the finance to start some of the activities planned.
During the summit, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, relayed the Nature's Baton, the symbol of Relay4Nature, to Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan. This was a symbol of the connection between issues affecting the planet and collaborative solutions needed.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, pledged to continue pushing the ocean agenda by putting in place policies that will address ocean governance for the benefit of the people of the island nation and the world.