CEFC embraces and energises the Blue Conservation initiative to help rescue our fragile oceans
At his keynote address at a high level luncheon on UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 held recently in Hong Kong, the president of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, was clear that all the stakeholders, including the UN, various global governments, civil society, the scientific community, and business sectors must all work together to change the course of our oceans’ destiny.
The luncheon was supported by the Hong Kong and US-based think-tank China Energy Fund Committee. As a non-government, non-profit civil society organisation, CEFC is engaged in a range of research, notably geopolitics to promote peace for all mankind, as well as energy strategy, public diplomacy, global cooperation and cultural exchanges.
CEFC has been collaborating with many top universities and research institutes — in addition to other thank-tanks. It also uses its resources to the fullest to extend the boundaries of conservation, sustainable development and multilateral cooperation.
The Committee also works to assist with many UN agendas. In working with the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), CEFC has funded and supported the department’s work on “Powering the Future We Want” initiative since 2015 with an annual US$1 million energy grant for the top project that advanced energy for sustainable development.
In fact, granted projects funded by CEFC, are located tens of thousands of kilometres from any CEFC office.
The latest awarded project is the re-engineering of a pollution-prone ferry transportation system used in coastal regions of the Middle East and North Africa to into a solar powered system. That may not sound relevant to people in Hong Kong, but the rationale behind the grant roots is the absolute certainty that, near or afar, energy conservation and protecting the oceans is a vital concern for the entire world.
SINTEF is an independent non-profit research institute based in Norway. It is leading a three-year research project to introduce solar power plug-in electric ferries to the existing ferries in the area. The North African country of Tunisia will be the project’s prime testing ground.
If this innovative project is as successful as its organisers hope they will be able to reduce both costly fossil fuel consumption and highly polluting emissions — while encouraging other nearby nations to adopt this environmentally- friendly technology. Perhaps, cities around the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Big Bay Area may one day adopt this technology of using solar –powered ferries for commuting in the Area. With this grant, CEFC makes its message clear — that all the nations of the world must communicate and collaborate, if we genuinely want to preserve our precious oceans, and achieve true energy sustainability for all humanity.
But of course the ocean, which covers 70 per cent of our planet, still faces many challenges apart from mere ferry emission pollution. It would not take the status of UN General Assembly president Peter Thomson to comply of list of marine problems: unsustainable fishing, pollutions from untreated sewage, wastewater, and plastic wastes, sea level rising due to climate changes, to name but a few.
As with the SINTEF project, there are other ingenious ideas around the world to save our oceans. But the key objective is that these ideas be heard, and be widely discussed. And if they prove effective, to be put into use wherever needed.
In this regard, CEFC has long strived to take up the vital role of facilitator. Ever since its inception in 2010, this globally-respected think-tank has been fostering international dialogue and promoting international cooperation.
Holding a special consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council, CEFC has been fostering occasions for blue conversation, and global exchanges about our ocean. The support on the high-level luncheon on SDG 14 was but one recent example.
CEFC, however, is also actively involved in other UN affairs. Last June, CEFC’s Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of CEFC, Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping, was an invited speaker at the Ocean Conference held at the New York headquarters of the UN.
Focusing on the ticking time bomb that pollution is to our oceans, CEFC vigorously advocates the Blue Economy concept — as a sustainable and responsible way to harvest the oceans’ vast resources for economic growth but in a way that is meticulous in the protection and preservation of our priceless oceans – for all future generations.
Dr Ho, however, believes that this cannot be done piecemeal, with different nations, or different regions going their own way, will-nilly. We are all in it together. Tides do not respect national boundaries, fishes have no passports, and pollution wastes do not need visas to go from one part of the ocean to another. What happens in your waters will very soon happen to mine. If we are to succeed in literally saving our planet, international dialogue and close cooperation between all nations, will prove essential.
This is especially true in view of the various disputes among different countries concerning everything from regional fishing rights, to pollution control and coastal sovereignty. So conversation about the oceans and the sea for a sustainable development will ease conflicts and help restore Mother Nature’s health.
During the Ocean Conference, Ho spoke at the session for ‘Deep Sea Mining and Blue Economy of developing countries’ and pointed out that the China’s 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road could be a constructive platform to further develop the Blue Economy through dialogue and cooperation.
According to China's official Xinhua News Agency, China has recently put forward plans for three ocean-based "blue economic passages" that will connect Asia with Africa, Oceania, Europe and beyond, in a bid to advance maritime cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Speaking at the Ocean Conference Dr Ho said: “China’s 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road can provide an avenue through which small and developing countries can all work together, to take full advantage of one another’s strengths and abilities.” The Blue water unites us all. “The Maritime Silk Road offers a Blue Partnership which redefines a new relationship and commitment between people and the ocean” he exclaimed.