Initiative an innovative way forward

Beqa Adventure Divers director Natasha Marosi, UNDP Head of Country director Bakhodir Burkhanov, Miss Fiji Hayley Qaqa, Miss Hibiscus 2018 Jessica Fong and Islands Business magazine publisher Netani Rika with their “My Fiji Shark” plaques yesterday after they were one of the fi rst to adopt a shark. Picture: SUPPLIED

THE health of oceans is being challenged by environmental degradation and through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 14 on Life Below Water commits the international community to halt and reverse this trend.

Head of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Pacific Regional Policy and Program and country director for UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Bakhodir Burkhanov made these remarks at the launch of “My Fiji Shark” yesterday.

“Globally SDG 14 is ambitious — and it needs to be. “Oceans are of immense fundamental value as the Earth’s largest life support system, holding nearly 97 per cent of our planet’s water, regulating the global climate, cycling vital nutrients and producing more than half the oxygen for the atmosphere,” Mr Burkhanov said.

“Oceans also provide the basis for the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, including some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable and contribute an estimated $US3 trillion ($F6.4t) to $US6t ($F12.9t) per annum to the global economy.”

Mr Burkhanov added reversing the trend was through preservation and sustainable use of marine resources, with targeted addressing pollution, overfishing, unfair subsidies, coastal habitat loss and acidification.

“As worrying as the state of global oceans may be, there are solutions and each of us can do our bit to help,” Mr Burkhanov said.

“Initiatives like ‘My Fiji Shark’ offer an innovative way forward, harnessing efforts and contributions of partners from private and public sectors as well as individuals.

“Businesses globally have a big role to play in achieving the SDGs. Indeed, SDGs will not succeed without private sector engagement and contribution. This initiative is all the more important as it targets SDG financing from and with the private sector.”

My Fiji Shark initiative is a collaborative effort by UNDP, South Pacific Tourism Organisation and its ocean warriors from Beqa Adventure Divers.

The Australian High Commission also gave financial support and encouragement in this initiative which is a first of its kind in the Pacific.

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