Prime Minister of Tonga
Island and Ocean Ecosystems
General News

28 June 2022, Lisbon Portugal, UNOC2022 - The Kingdom of Tonga has added its voice to growing calls for the global community to support the implementation of urgent measures to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14, to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Speaking to a global audience during the leader’s plenary of the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon Portugal, Tonga’s Prime Minister, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni, said the health of the ocean is critical for his nation’s survival.

“We welcome placing oceans, science, innovation as well as traditional knowledge at the centre of this conference; this is vital for ocean conservation and protection,” Hon Sovaleni said.

Citing Ocean champion and Tongan Professor, the late Epeli Hau’ofa, the Tongan Prime Minister reminded that” “Oceania is vast, Oceania is expanding Oceania is hospitable and generous, Oceania is humanity, Oceania is us, we are the sea, we are the ocean.”

The UN Ocean Conference is being held at a critical juncture in efforts to achieve SDG 14. Adopted in 2015 as an integral aspect of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its set of 17 transformative goals, Goal 14 stresses the need to conserve and sustainably use the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources.

But the science is clear – the ocean is facing unprecedented threats as a result of human activities. Its health and ability to sustain life will only get worse as the world population grows and human activities increase. Prime Minister Sovaleni said Tonga holds SDG 14 dear to her heart.

“Our livelihood, culture, conservation efforts and the overall sustainable development of Tonga, is dependent on a healthy and resilient ocean,” he said. “Tonga recognises the importance of Ocean Science and technology in identifying threats and necessary solutions to address the increasing pressures of ocean issues.”

He assured that the Tongan Government is doing all it can locally and internationally to achieve SDG14. Among the steps they have taken locally, he referred to Tonga’s first Oceans Management Plan, which is regarded as a milestone in the work to ensure sustainable management of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The plan covers the management of the 700,000 km2 EEZ, its resources and activities.

Internationally, Tonga’s Prime Minister said that among other international treaties, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources, is critical.

“Tonga remains committed to the rule of law, in the governing and management of our oceans. Tonga recognises that international law must be bold,” he said, calling on the global community to support the ongoing implementation of measures to combat Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), which is a major problem for Pacific nations.

“As leaders and representatives of our governments, we are determined to act decisively and urgently to improve the health, productivity, sustainable use and resilience of the ocean and its ecosystems,” Hon. Sovaleni said.  “We look forward to joining the scaling up of actions that will be agreed upon at this conference to achieve our common goals.”

The Second UN Ocean Conference is hosted in Lisbon, Portugal from 27 June to 1 July 2022.  The Pacific Islands are represented by a strong contingent, which includes the Leaders from Fiji, Palau and Tonga.  Also present are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) will provide more Pacific news from the UNOC2022.

For more information on the UN Ocean Conference 2022 please visit:


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