Non-Aligned Movement has laid stress on the protection of the environment. At the 2019 Baku Summit of NAM, the Heads of States and Government of NAM Member States emphasized that oceans and coasts provide valuable resources and services to support human kind and that the sustainable use of marine ecosystems will enhance global food security and increase resilience to climate change for present and future generations, They further emphasized the need to develop comprehensive adaption measure to address climate related impacts on oceans and coasts, including through greater capacity building, enhanced scientific monitoring activities and to promote environmentally sound policies for integrated coastal and ocean management.

Papua New Guinea (PNG), a NAM Member and a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), is an archipelagic state in the Pacific Ocean and recognizes that the ocean is the major driver of all natural and physical systems that impact on the country’s natural environments or ecosystems (whether on land or in the seas), which in turn impacts the socio-economic livelihoods of the people and their aspirations for sustainable development.

These resources include food, water, medicines, and various components of biological diversity, minerals, hydrocarbons and energy. The oceans also hold opportunities for industrial and service sectors such as in fisheries, forestry, agriculture, transportation, business and finance, human settlement and infrastructure development, socio-economic livelihoods along the coasts and on islands, tourism, education and traditional knowledge, health, national security and international relations.

During the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, stressed that as a maritime nation, the country gives high priority to the protection of the maritime and fisheries sector, which represents a quarter of the annual budget and employs 80 per cent women. In support of this sector, the PNG Government launched in July 2020 its very first National Oceans Policy (NOP) 2020-2030, to ensure that the oceans, seas and their resources are correctly and sustainably coordinated, managed, protected, governed and used. The NOP framework has been devised in accordance with the Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

The primary purpose of the NOP is to develop and establish an Integrated Ocean Management System within PNG’s national jurisdiction and at the same time establish a Framework for Regional and International Cooperation and Collaboration in Areas Beyond its National Jurisdiction.

The supporting objectives of the NOP are to : 1) Strengthen the implementation of UNCLOS and the MZA through mutual cooperation and collaboration with international, regional and domestic partners and stakeholders; 2) Support the implementation of the Fourth Goal of the National Constitution relating to the wise use and management of PNG’s environment and natural resources.; 3) Strengthen cooperation and collaboration between different stakeholders in the implementation of the NOP. 4) Support the implementation of overarching national policies namely; the Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 and the National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development for Papua New Guinea (Stars). 5) Provide strategic directions upon which sub policies dealing with the ocean space can be standardized to enable a coherent integrated management system. 6) Facilitate capacity building, the transfer of marine technology, and ocean literacy, and promote tools and approaches that transform ocean knowledge into actions on ocean sustainability.

The implementation of the NOP is based on the following five principles: 1) Shared responsibility of the governance and management of the oceans, through transparency, inclusiveness and accountability; 2) Improving the understanding of our ocean through Science, Research, Knowledge and Innovation; 3) Environment Protection and Conservation; 4) Sustainable Development and Management of the use of the ocean and its resources and 5) Promoting and enhancing the peaceful use of the oceans.

Through the NOP, PNG will also participate in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The Ocean Decade represents a possibility to build scientific capacity and deliver us of the potential of the ocean to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically SDG14.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava

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