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The Commonwealth Blue Charter aims for a sustainable approach to ocean economic development

By Juliet Hermes, Manager, SAEON Egagasini Node
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The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states. South Africa has been a member since 1994 (having withdrawn in 1961 after being a member since 1931).

The Commonwealth Blue Charter – signed into effect by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 – is an agreement by all 53 Commonwealth countries. 

It is aimed at ensuring that the Commonwealth members take a fair, equitable, inclusive and sustainable approach to ocean economic development and protection and actively cooperate to solve ocean-related problems. Under this charter are a number of action groups.


Commonwealth Blue Charter action group on ocean observation

This action group is championed by Canada. Members gathered for the inaugural meeting held in Ottawa, Canada from 29 to 30 May, during which a strategy was launched to advance ocean observation opportunities.

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Members of the Commonwealth Blue Charter action group at the inaugural meeting in Canada                                                                  

Dr Gilbert Siko at the Centennial Flame in Ottawa, which commemorates Canada's 100th anniversary as a Confederation (Photo: Juliet Hermes)

Commonwealth countries face many challenges in the protection and sustainable use of the ocean. Ocean observations provide information that is essential to tackling many of these challenges, in particular predicting and understanding the impacts of a changing ocean.

The Action Group on Ocean Observations will aim to:

  • Identify and capture opportunities to increase the innovation, development and deployment of ocean observational technologies;
  • Increase access to, and sharing of, ocean observational data, knowledge and best practices;
  • Integrate observational data, information and knowledge into decisions, products and services; and
  • Advance gender equality across all initiatives.

Dr Gilbert Siko, Director of Science Platforms at the Department of Science and Innovation, and Professor Juliet Hermes, manager of SAEON’s Egagasini Node, represented South Africa at the meeting.

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