This past week, timed to coincide with World Oceans Day, the UN hosted its first Ocean Conference to generate commitments and support for UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #14 – “to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development”. The conference, which was co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden, “aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet, and prosperity”. Recent estimates suggest that ~26% of all released CO2 between 2002-2011 was absorbed by the worlds oceans.
The Oceans Conference boldly solicited voluntary commitments, and by the conference close on Friday, June 9, there were 1328 commitments registered. Two of these were committed by the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), which is in the Republic of Kiribati and is the largest and deepest UNESCO World Heritage Site on the planet. Randi Rotjan, a Research Assistant Professor at BU, is the Chief Scientist of the PIPA Conservation Trust, and the Founder and Co-Chair of the PIPA Scientific Advisory Committee. In these roles, she co-authored two UN Voluntary Commitments, listing Boston University as a partner. Rotjan is jointly-appointed in the Boston University Department of Biology, and the Boston University Marine Program.