Lung fish.

A Fish Called Development

One of the first tests of the new Sustainable Development Goals will be whether they influence the outcome of other international negotiations. When leaders meet at the tenth WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December, they will have an opportunity to meet one of the targets: elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies.

GENEVA – The just-adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are expected to herald the start of a new era in global development, one that promises to transform the world in the name of people, the planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. But there is an ocean of difference between promising and doing. And, while global declarations are important – they prioritize financing and channel political will – many of today’s pledges have been made before.

In fact, whether the SDGs succeed will depend to a significant degree on how they influence other international negotiations, particularly the most complex and contentious ones. And an early test concerns a goal for which the Global Ocean Commission actively campaigned: to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.”

When political leaders meet at the tenth WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December, they will have an opportunity to move toward meeting one of that goal’s most important targets: prohibition of subsidies that contribute to overfishing and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by no later than 2020.

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