Palau’s Our Ocean conference commitments top US$16 billion

By RNZ Pacific’s Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor in Palau At the closing of the Our Ocean conference in Palau the co-hosts announced that 410 commitments had been made by various, countries, civil society, and industry valued at $US16.35 billion. The two-day conference was held in the Pacific region for the first time. Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr

By RNZ Pacific’s Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor in Palau

At the closing of the Our Ocean conference in Palau the co-hosts announced that 410 commitments had been made by various, countries, civil society, and industry valued at $US16.35 billion.

The two-day conference was held in the Pacific region for the first time.

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr and the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, closed the conference. Each of them praised those attending for the commitment to protect the ocean.

“Our goal this week was to shine a light on what is happening to our ocean and to make real commitments about real actions and not just words,” Kerry said.

The Palauan president said that the conference was truly a global event, with more than 500 delegates from 80 plus nations.

Delegates at Our Ocean conference listening to US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry
Delegates at Our Ocean conference listening to the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry. Image: Jesse Alpert/RNZ

The Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the Department of State, Monica P. Medina, said that since the launch of the Our Ocean conference in 2014 it had ” generated over 1400 commitments valued at more than $US90 billion, that’s not including the commitments made at the 2022 conference”.

“Over the years, leaders around the world have protected more than 5 million square miles of ocean — that’s an area larger than the United States and Palau combined,” she said.

NZ commits US $6 million at Our Ocean conference
The Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aupito William Sio, and FFA Director-General, Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen, announced at the Our Ocean conference that the New Zealand government would commit to a US$3.4 million partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

Participants at Our Ocean conference in Palau
Participants at Our Ocean conference in Palau. Image: Jesse Alpert/RNZ

Aupito said fishing was a major big asset in the region, for example in Tokelau, 81 percent of its non-aid money came from fishing.

New Zealand's Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aupito William Sio
NZ’s Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aupito William Sio. Image: US State Department

He said New Zealand’s financial commitment to the FFA was for 4 years.

Increasing jobs and economic benefits from the Pacific’s offshore fisheries is the focus of the partnership.

New Zealand also committed US$3 million towards climate change assessment. The funds will go to the University of the South Pacific and the University of Canterbury.

The next Our Ocean conference will be in Panama in 2023.

RNZ Pacific’s manager Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor is covering the conference in Palau. Her trip was made possible by the US State Department. This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.


This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.


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