As a developed island country, the United Kingdom played an active role in the negotiations during the World Ocean Conference (WOC) in Manado. The four-day conference has resulted in the Manado Ocean Declaration (MOD) that urges the world to give oceans a more central role in United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen in December, which is expected to result in an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. The Jakarta Post's Abdul Khalik talked with British Ambassador to Indonesia Martin Hatfull, who represented his country at the WOC, on the British position on the role of oceans during the conference and the way forward. Below is an excerpt of the interview.
Question: First of all, what do you make of this conference?
Answer: We are very please to have taken part in the conference, and we think the declaration that has been adopted is an important step on the road toward the Copenhagen talks later this year because it concentrates attention on the problems of climate change from a different perspective. This time, we concentrate on the perspective of oceans.
But the basic message is the same, that unless we act very quickly to reduce carbon emissions dramatically and reach an agreement in Copenhagen, we face disaster. And that was the message coming through very strongly from all presentations that I heard today from speakers from big countries and small countries, or developed and developing countries.
Many said the declaration was watered down, and not powerful enough to give developing nations the support they need to face the impacts of climate change. What is your opinion?
Well, I am sure there is always an issue you want to put in the declaration, depending on who you are. We got consensus from all participating nations in the conference on that text, and it is a powerful text committing us all to try to minimize the impacts of the climate change and to share information.
From the UK's point of view, we have a unanimous declaration that underlines and stresses the urgency of action. And I think that's what we need.
Will the UK support a push for oceans at climate talks leading to Copenhagen?
Another point that everyone agreed upon is that the existing UN mechanism leading to Copenhagen is the only track for negotiation. The declaration highlights the political commitment from all the countries present at the conference to make a difference on the role of oceans in climate change.
During the conference, did you see any divisions between developed and developing countries on key topics?
Not really. And that surprised me. During the conference, there was a strong consensus among developed and developing countries to understand better the links between the oceans and climate change, the need to protect the most vulnerable communities along coastal areas, the need to conserve our fish stock and to combat illegal fishing.
I sensed a strong consensus from big and small countries to work together to resolve all problems from climate change.
The adaptation fund was one of the key issues during the conference as it is very important to developing nations. Will the declaration be enough to get the help they need?
The thing about adaptation funds and some other issues to be decided in Copenhagen is that we have to make a decision in the round. So it is not possible to conclude the discussions at this time.
We, the UK, certainly want to make sure that developing countries can access that as we contribute a lot to that kind of fund. We are keen to see the fund make a difference for small island countries and developing countries.