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Jamaica’s Foreign Minister, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith departed the island on Sunday to attend the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, also known as the Ocean Conference, from June 5 – 9 at the UN Headquarters in New York, which coincides with World Ocean Day on Thursday, June 8.

The gathering of heads of state, government ministers and ocean experts will discuss solutions to restore the health of the world’s ocean, as SDG 14 charges countries to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

The Ocean Conference, the first UN conference of its kind on the issue, is of particular significance to Jamaica. Minister Johnson Smith will deliver the national statement today (Tuesday, June 6), setting out the vulnerabilities Jamaica faces as a small island developing state (SIDS), as well as the country’s priorities in addressing the conservation and management of its marine areas.

The Minister also addressed the Partnership Dialogues yesterday, a special feature of the Conference, which focused on measures to reduce marine pollution.

Member States are expected to adopt a Call for Action at the conclusion of the Conference, which outlines their commitments to address a wide range of ocean issues. These include protecting coral reefs; strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies such as fisheries and tourism; reducing plastic pollution and addressing the impacts of climate change on the ocean.

Minister Johnson Smith is head of the Jamaican delegation, which comprises Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, as well as civil society representatives and MDAs with responsibility for ocean affairs.