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Island Leaders Unify in Going Beyond the Commitment to Protect 30% of the Ocean by 2030

Island nations gathered at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon to celebrate action toward the global target of protecting at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. Hosted by the governments of the Kingdom of Tonga, Maldives and Antigua & Barbuda, “Beyond the Commitment” featured governments who are leading the way in taking measurable steps for effective ocean action.

Pictured (left to right): Tonga Prime Minister Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni; GLISPA Executive Director Kate Brown; WI Executive Director Kathryn Mengerink; U.S. Assistant Secretary Monica Medina; WI Founder & Chair Ted Waitt; Maldives Minister of Environment, Climate Change & Technology H.E. Aminath Shauna; and Antigua & Barbuda Minister of Health, Wellness & The Environment Hon. Molwyn Joseph

As large ocean states, island nations are at the forefront of ocean action and effective marine protection to ensure that their resources are viable for generations to come. High level representatives from Tonga, Maldives, Antigua & Barbuda, and the United States State Department spoke about the actions each of their nations are taking to protect the ocean and sustainably manage their waters to benefit the environment, economy and community.

Organised by the Waitt Institute, Local2030 Islands Network, and Oceano Azul Foundation, attendees heard from Tonga Prime Minister - Hon. Siaosi Sovalini, Maldives Minister of the Environment, Climate Change and Technology - Hon. Aminath Shauna, Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Health, Wellness & The Environment - Hon. Molwyn Joseph and U.S. Assistant Secretary - Monica Medina.

Tonga Prime Minister Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni

Commenting at the event, Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni of Tonga said: “Tonga is tied to the ocean. It is important to examine how we use the ocean so that we may plan for its sustainability for future generations. Tonga can set an example - in 2017 we committed to protect at least 30% of our ocean by 2020 and I am pleased to announce that we have achieved such protection. As well as protected areas, it is important to create a 100% sustainably managed ocean space. We need to ensure our ocean is used effectively and supports the balance of environmental health with economic benefits.” He credited the Waitt Institute and Blue Prosperity Coalition as a committed partner to his and many other island governments in implementing marine protected areas that are environmentally and economically sustainable.

Maldives Minister for the Environment and Climate Change and Technology, H.E. Aminath Shauna

Maldives Minister for the Environment and Climate Change and Technology, H.E. Aminath Shauna echoed these sentiments. “As a large ocean state, we are doing everything we can. Protection is not just about environmental protection, it is the way we shape our economic future in a sustainable manner. It's how we create jobs and income for our people.”

Antigua & Barbuda, recently joined the Local 2030 Islands Network, in its capacity of Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), spoke about the importance of islands working together to implement SDG14.

Minister Molwyn Joseph of Antigua and Barbuda said: “Barbuda has been ahead of its time in ocean management for over a decade. In 2014, Barbuda went above and beyond the global vision of protecting 30% of its waters. Imagine what we can accomplish together sharing our successes. The Local2030 Islands Network provides a forum to share our knowledge and experiences with each other on topics important to us.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary Monica Medina praised island leaders for their pioneering efforts and encouraged other nations to follow suit. “We can all learn from island nations, their knowledge, attitude and ambition to excel in sustainable ocean management. There is such amazing leadership for the rest of the world to emulate in their work to protect the world’s oceans.”


Global Island Partnership/Local2030 Islands Network has organised high level events in the margins of international meetings since 2006 as a way for islands and those that support islands to come together with a focus on action, connections and partnership. The Global Island Partnership is led by the President of the Marshall Islands, Prime Minister of Grenada, Governor of Guam and Premier of the British Virgin Islands. Since the 2017 UN Oceans Conference, GLISPA has become co-secretariat (with Hawaii Local2030 Hub) for the Local2030 Islands Network, a network focussed on localising the SDGs in islands through four principles: local goals, public private partnerships, measuring progress and concrete action. Local2030 Islands Network is the first global, island-led network devoted to addressing the climate crisis by advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through locally driven, culturally informed solutions.

About the Waitt Institute

The Waitt Institute is a non-profit that partners with committed governments and local stakeholders to create and implement sustainable ocean plans to benefit communities, the economy, and the environment. The Waitt Institute brings a team of technical experts to help facilitate the policymaking process and capacity building for effective implementation and long-term success through expertise, funding, and tools focusing on marine spatial planning, blue economy, and sustainable fisheries. The Waitt Institute is the founding member and organizing body of the Blue Prosperity Coalition, which currently has Blue Prosperity partnerships with the Azores, Barbuda, Bermuda, Curaçao, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, the Maldives, Samoa, and Tonga.

Oceano Azul Foundation Founded in 2017 with the motivation to promote healthier, more productive oceans through literacy, conservation and capacity building, the Oceano Azul Foundation serves as a voice for the sustainable use of the ocean.

Based in Portugal, the Oceano Azul Foundation works to position the country as an international leader in ocean-related issues by developing a blue generation and blue economy, while supporting innovation in scientific research. The Foundation has an international reach, strategically partnering on a global scale with other countries, foundations, academic institutions and civil society organizations, as well as with intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union. The Oceano Azul Foundation works toward a sustainable future for both humans and the ocean, under its motto, “From the ocean’s point of view.”

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