Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 of the 2030 Agenda commits UN Member States to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Under this Goal, three targets explicitly focus on the trade-related aspects of fisheries: Target 4 (fight against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, fish stocks management and restoration), Target 6 (phasing out certain fisheries subsidies) and Target b (access to markets and resources by small scale and artisanal fishermen).
These SDG 14 targets represent a comprehensive avenue for addressing unsustainable practices in the fisheries sector. Among the targets, the issue of addressing and removing harmful fisheries subsidies has been a complicated and thorny one. For the majority of fisheries subsidies, there is a strong correlation with overcapacity and overfishing. Addressing harmful fisheries subsidies is not a stand-alone issue and a holistic approach is necessary in order to advance sustainability and development. The "Call for Action" of the UN Ocean Conference will set a new direction in the implementation of SDG 14, incorporating new voluntary commitments and allowing for the development of new multistakeholder partnerships.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment) have a key role to play in the implementation of these trade-related targets. Through the Joint Statement made during the 14th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, titled Regulating Fisheries Subsidies must be an integral part of the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the three agencies made a commitment to support member states efforts to meet SDG Target 14.6, by identifying four minimum outcomes:
Accurate, additional, practical and feasible provisions for the transparent notification of all relevant fisheries subsidies;
Clear prohibition of subsidies that contribute to over-fishing and overcapacity, and those that undermine sustainable development, food and nutritional security, jeopardizing the livelihoods of coastal populations;
Adequate and appropriate instruments and tools to deter introduction of new harmful subsidies; and
Special attention and treatment to developing countries, in particular, the least developed ones and Small Island Development States (SIDS).
Trade and trade-policies can facilitate the transition to sustainable ocean-based economies by increasing resource efficiency, improving the environment, enhancing inclusiveness and creating new green business opportunities. In the context of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other relevant international instruments, UNCTAD, FAO and UN Environment stand ready to work with countries and donors to provide capacity building and technical assistance on fisheries, trade, environment and development. The convening power and expertise of the three agencies provide a unique differential in supporting countries to progress towards sustainable development, by incorporating more sustainable trade policies, and to deliver upon the aforementioned targets, particularly 14.6.
By facilitating a comprehensive understanding of the trade-related aspects of SDG 14, this joint effort aims to improve countries capacity to shift towards more resource efficient and sustainable pathways. It will support countries to better position themselves within relevant trade negotiations and to undertake internal policy and regulatory reform aligned with SDG 14 targets.
Updates to voluntary commitment
Delivery of technical assistance to member states on demand and subject to availability of extra-budgetary resources on issues related to national fisheries governance and management, market access and trade-related aspects, including subsidies (SDG 14.4, 14.6, and 14 b), aiming to foster effective linkages between national policies, relevant international instruments and the regulatory framework in the area of international trade, environment, and global fisheries governance.
Partnership building to support the above-mentioned technical assistance and capacity building activities. (SDG 14.4, 14.6 and 14 b).
Awareness raising and dissemination of technical information through policy dialogues on trade and fisheries policy, highlighting the environment and development aspects, particularly in relation to subsidies (SDG 14.4, 14.6 and 14 b).