The United Nations Ocean Conference 2022 (UNOC2022) will take place from 27 June to 1 July 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal. The conference aims to mobilize action and propel science-based innovative solutions directed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action rooted in Sustainable Development Goals 14 (SDG14).

The SDG14 titled ‘Life below water’ focuses on sustainable management and protection of marine and coastal systems. Also contributing to the sustainability of the ocean, is the ocean people as primary owners and custodians of our oceans.

This year, Masifundise will join the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) and National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) for their online conference, run as a ‘counter-event’ to UNOC2022, called Conference of The Ocean Peoples (C-OP).

In a statement from NFF and WFFP, it explains that “the commitment of nation-states towards sustainable development of the ocean has been largely through the ‘blue growth’ initiatives to extract and exploit resources of the ocean for the nation’s prosperity by devising the Sustainable Development Goal 14 (conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development). This understanding of the ocean economy has excluded the ocean people out of their nation’s growth model”

The 3-day conference 26-30 June 2022 is a “political act of resistance by the Ocean People with an alliance with grassroots organisations, labour unions, fisher movements and other rights holders working on coastal and marine issues.”

It will highlight how ocean people, like small-scale fishers, play a crucial role in securing the food and nutrition security of their communities while presenting a sustainable use of the ocean resource.

It rejects the corporate mindset that has narrowed ocean ecology to capital, spaces for production, economy and market and development. The management of ocean resources has been completely stripped away from ocean communities and is now governed by private entities.

The C-OP wants to refocus the celebrations around World Oceans Day by recognizing the role that ocean people play in sustaining the ocean by, asserting the historical and customary rights to secure the sovereignty of the oceans and protect the coastal land for our future generations.