Pacific Islands Forum Declaration on Sea-Level Rise and Maritime Zones

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

The Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, have issued the ‘Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise’(external link).

Sea-level rise, which is a growing issue for the international community, is particularly concerning for New Zealand and our Pacific neighbours. In our region, the ocean is at the heart of our geography and is inextricably linked to our identity.

Sea-level rise caused by climate change was not well understood at the time that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was negotiated.

The Leaders’ Declaration sets out our region’s collective position on how the Convention’s rules on maritime zones should apply in the situation of climate change-related sea-level rise. It makes clear our intention to maintain our zones, without reduction.

Maritime zones, and the resource rights that come with them, are of fundamental importance to Pacific countries’ economies. Moreover, these countries have been planning their long-term development in reliance on those rights, which are guaranteed to them under UNCLOS.

Aotearoa New Zealand is a strong defender of UNCLOS, which sets out the enduring legal order for the oceans and seas. The Leaders’ Declaration is firmly grounded in the primacy of UNCLOS, and promotes the principles of legal stability and certainty over maritime zones.

New Zealand is proud to be part of the PIF Declaration, a ground-breaking initiative which builds upon a long history of Pacific Island Forum leadership on oceans issues and a strong regional commitment to UNCLOS.


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