25 July 2022, Apia - Samoa might be a small country in the eyes of the world but when it comes to matters of the Ocean, it is a large ocean state. As such, Samoa is home to exceptional habitats such as seamounts, coral reefs, mangroves, and oceanic basins, which contribute significantly to the economy and the identity of Samoan people.
That is the message from the Government of Samoa in a video it has recently released to the global masses to promote its Samoa Ocean Strategy (SOS). Launched in 2020, the SOS seeks to protect 30%, and sustainably manage 100% of our Ocean by 2030.
“Ninety eight percent of Samoa’s domain is the ocean. Like other Pacific Island nations, we are not a small island developing state; we are a large ocean state,” the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, said in the video. “If the health of our ocean declines, so does our health.”
The video was released during the week of United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in June 2022, where Pacific leaders and senior government officials demanded urgent and bold actions from the global community to protect the ocean. Throughout the global gathering, Pacific leaders argued that it is utterly unfair for Pacific people to be among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change when they are responsible for only a tiny fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The message is not lost on Samoa, with Minister Hon. Toeolesulusulu advocating for global urgent action to protect the ocean.
“Globally we need to protect at least 30% of planet Earth by 2030 to provide a third of the action needed to avoid the worst climate scenarios. There has been a lot of talk, and now it’s time for leaders take more action,” Hon. Toeolesulusulu said. “Samoa has answered this emergency call. The Samoa Ocean Strategy is our nation’s plan to better manage our nature so we can ensure the health of our sea and our people. The SOS provides a holistic approach of the management of our marine domain. It organises our efforts and identifies priority areas that require immediate focus and long-term investment. Managing this is a big task, so we need support.”
The Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, congratulated Samoa on the launch and implementation of the Samoa Ocean Strategy as well as the video to seek further support to achieve its purpose.
“I commend the Government and people of Samoa for the Samoa Ocean Strategy. As Pacific people, the ocean is part of us as much as we are part of the vast ocean and our life is its life,” Mr Nawadra said.
“Pacific nations are stewards of the Ocean not only for ourselves but for everyone around the world but we cannot turn things around by ourselves - we need the world to partner with us. We clearly articulated this during the recent 2022 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon and our hope is that it awakened a sense of urgency and cooperation in terms of global support and response. Samoa, collectively with all our Pacific member states and partners will continue to advocate for global partnerships to address the ocean challenges before us. Time is of the essence.”
The Samoa Ocean Strategy guides and tracks Samoa’s goals for integrated planning and management of its ocean domain over the next decade. It also serves as an integration tool to combine implementation and management of Sustainable Development Goals, regional policies, and international commitments that concern the marine environment.
To find out more about Samoa’s Ocean Strategy, visit: https://www.sprep.org/sites/default/files/documents/publications/samoa-ocean-strategy-management.pdf
To watch the Samoa Ocean Strategy Video, visit: https://www.facebook.com/samoaoceanstrategy/videos/371110438457329
MAIN PHOTO CREDIT: Conservation International.