Mr Secretary, FVP Timmermans, Excellencies, Colleagues, Friends,

On behalf of my fellow Commissioners, on behalf of the European Union, thank you.

We came into this 4th Edition of Our Ocean hoping that the EU's starting contribution of half a billion euros would be matched.

You, the participants from 112 countries and from 6 continents have multiplied the amount 12 times.

The latest estimate is more than 6 billion Euros in the value of commitments.

This is a stunning success. Your success.

We have seen unique new partnerships: between states, civil society, international organisations, private sector.

And partnership is the theme that runs throughout.

Just yesterday, for example, the European Union and Sweden signed a landmark 45 million euro partnership to support sustainable development in the Pacific.

We have seen impressive announcements from Chile, the Cook Islands, Indonesia, Niue, Palau and the European Union on marine protected areas.

And we have even brought that sense of partnership to new 'Our Ocean' areas. Themes like maritime security and the blue economy.

The business community has truly stepped up - in all areas of action. For example:

  • Unilever, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Marks & Spencer, SKY and Carrefour all announced significant reductions in plastic use.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises will team up with WWF to make its global operations more sustainable.
  • Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. will invest 34 million euros to support the fight against illegal fishing with cutting-edge technology.
  • And AXA announced a code of conduct between insurers banning insurance for vessels involved in illegal fishing.

On climate change

  • The world biggest fishing port, Vigo, announced 30% emission reductions by 2022, including through innovative algae capture of CO2.
  • Naval Energies will open the world's first tidal turbine plant in Cherbourg, France, marking the start of industrial-scale renewable ocean energy.
  • And on top of all this, WindEurope announced nearly 25 billion euros of investment in offshore wind.

I wish I could mention every single action by you. But I dear not. A full list of commitments is already published and available on the Our Ocean website.

Our Ocean is committed to forging partnership.
And we are now partners in meeting these commitments.

We constantly check whether we are living up to what we have promised in the past. 

The true success of the Our Ocean conference will only depend on how seriously we take those actions.

I am proud to announce that nearly half of the previously announced 283 commitments – 47% – have now been completed. Another 46% are fully active.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The credibility of this and following Our Ocean conferences depend on the implementation of these commitments. We are willing to start up a fund to setup a tracking mechanism.

We want the Our Ocean conference not only to be the conference of commitments but the conference of results.

The conference which separates the walkers form the talkers, the doers from the watchers but I am certain that we have come here to commit what we can deliver and that we will deliver what we have committed.

Since the first Our Ocean Conference in 2014, more than 2 billion euros have been spent on advancing the protection and sustainable use of our ocean. More than 7 million square kilometres have been declared as marine protected areas.

The credibility…

We have come to the end of the Our Ocean conference but the real work is just beginning may God bless your efforts with the higher results.

I would like to thank my Cabinet and DG MARE and European External Action Service. Your teams are the ones who made this incredible conference happen. And you are also the ones who have been standing here in the wings, making sure everything runs smoothly. I am lucky to work with such fantastic people.

Thank you also to the many technicians and audio-visual people who set up this amazing screen and converted this conference centre into a true ocean hub.

Thank you to the Maltese government and Maltese Prime Minister. Again you showed how Malta is a truly modern host. Thanks also to John Kerry and his team who supported my team. But the biggest thank you goes to all of you wonderful ocean lovers and protectors.

With the projects you've helped launched here, I hope you will get to see the ocean's own deep appreciation, with our own eyes, through our children, and long into the future. Through the eyes of Daniela's organisation. Through the eyes of our grandchildren; I have one of my four grandchildren here, please allow me to call him and Daniela on the stage.

A future to which you have given that bit more hope.

This is not out ocean. This is their ocean. It is our responsibility to give it back to them safe, healthy and sustainable.

There have been lots of thank yous and lots of appreciation. But I believe that the biggest thank you will come from the ocean itself. On behalf of the ocean, thank you. And on your behalf and on behalf of humanity, a million thanks to the ocean.

It is going to be hard for me to leave this venue. I truly wish this conference would have lasted more. I will miss this setting, I will miss the presentations - I have learnt a lot. But above all I will miss all of you. 

Thank you and see you next year in Indonesia, for more commitments but more so for results.

Grazzi ħafna


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