Bureau régional de la FAO pour le Proche-Orient et l’Afrique du Nord

Life below Water: Progress toward SDG 14 and Way Forward

22 January 2022, Dubai, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) in Abu Dhabi, organized a meeting on the progress made toward achieving SDG14 during the Global Goals Week at EXPO. The Subregional Office for the GCC states and Yemen gathered together experts and representatives from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency, the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Environment Agency from Fujairah as well as the Norway Pavilion at Expo. 

The purpose of this meeting was to review the progress made towards achieving the targets of goal 14 “Life below water” at both the Global and National levels. Presenters and panelists provided an overview of the achievements so far and shared their thoughts on the way forward to ensure that all targets and goals achieved. 

The meeting took place in the presence of the FAO Subregional Coordinator and representative in the UAE, H.E Dr. Dino Francescutti, H.E. Dr. Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator, H.E. Mr Ole Johan Sandvaer, Commissioner General of Norway at EXPO2020, and H.E. Mr Ahmed Alzabi, Director of the Fisheries Sustainability Department at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

“Our oceans produce half of the oxygen we breathe, provides livelihoods to billions of people, and plays a most vital role in our food systems. However, our oceans today face most significant challenges that threaten their health and ability to sustainable life, both below water and on land” reminded H.E Dr. Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator, during her introductory speech.

H.E. Dr. Dino Francescutti Motis, FAO Subregional Coordinator and FAO representative in the UAE added “Wild fish stocks are under-threats of environment degradation, overfishing and climate change, but frequently we do not know exactly to what extent. As the experiences presented by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Environment Agencies in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah, and as this was stated very clearly by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, it is essential to collect data and improve our knowledge and understanding of the status of fish stocks. As a first key point, I want to encourage all countries to invest efforts and resources in research, data collection and monitoring of marine habitats and wild stocks” he added.

During the meeting, it was also highlighted that fisheries management is very effective in preserving wild stock, and that it is even the best conservation. An excellent illustration of this was the achievement of the Abu Dhabi emirate and how it has managed to recover from overfishing of several emblematic species by implementing fact-based policies.

In the context of the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that will take place in the United Arab Emirates, it was also highlighted that climate change may impact strongly the future of our oceans and that countries should start working on developing ambitious strategies to tackle this particularly complex challenge.  As the oceans, seas and coastal areas provide the world with numerous goods fundamental to human well-being and global food security, fisheries and aquaculture offer many opportunities to reduce hunger and improve nutrition, alleviate poverty, generate economic growth and ensure better use of natural resources, especially with small holders. “2022 has been declared the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture” said Lionel Dabbadie, Senior Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer, adding that “it is an opportunity to celebrate and empower a sector that may be small in scale, but huge in value”.

FAO subregional office for the GCC states and Yemen will continue its support to the country and the counterparties to progress toward SDG 14.