Nordic Ministerial Declaration on Biodiversity, Oceans and Climate

12.05.21 | Declaration
Seaweed floating in the ocean
Shane Stagner -
The Nordic Ministers of Environment and Climate take initiative for a ministerial declaration on biodiversity, oceans and climate and convey the message that is of Nordic importance ahead of CBD-COP15 in Kunming. In the declaration, the Nordic Ministers of Environment and Climate emphasize the importance of producing a sufficiently comprehensive knowledge base on the interaction between the sea, climate and biodiversity.



The ocean holds rich, productive ecosystems and provide ecosystem services such as seafood, habitats, genetic resources and renewable energy. The ocean plays a key role in regulating the climate and in slowing global warming, through absorption of excess heat and carbon dioxide. The Nordics comprises marine regions as semi-enclosed seas and Arctic marine ecosystems, where climate change is advancing faster than in other regions and the effects of climate change are expected to be extensive.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) have, through previous reports, concluded that management of human activities impacting the marine ecosystems must be adapted to the accelerating changes in climate and environmental conditions.

Ecosystem-based management of oceans must take into account the consequences of climate change in combination with other influencing factors and have the ability to adapt quickly when changes occur. As climate change and ocean acidification increase, it will also become increasingly challenging to ensure that overall use and resource utilization is sustainable. In addition, understanding the overall impact of various activities and managing these in a way that ensures that the status of marine environment remains good or is restored to a good status if it has been lost, will be an increasing challenge.

Attention should be paid to building up and synthetizing knowledge supporting integrated and sustainable ecosystem-based management of the marine environment, adapted to climate change and aiming at making marine ecosystems more resilient, including the use of marine protected areas (MPAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) as part of the policy mix.

We, the Nordic Ministers of Environment and Climate

Are Mindful about the worrying state of the Oceans.

Recall the Nordic Ministerial Declaration on Oceans and Climate adopted at the Nordic Ministerial Meeting in Stockholm, 30 October 2019.

Support actions for nature, which take into account challenges related to ocean and climate.

Highlight the need for an integrated ecosystem-based approach to management of oceans, which recognises that protecting nature and biodiversity, including the blue carbon of the oceans, is also a way of climate action.

Underline the need for ecosystem-based knowledge on how to sustain or restore marine ecosystems in an era of climate change.

Stress the need for a transformative, ambitious and effective post 2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at COP 15 in Kunming, China, in October 2021 with emphasis on the following:

  • Curb the direct drivers of biodiversity loss, i.e. changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and invasive alien species, as well as the indirect drivers;
  • Strengthening the efforts for sustainable use of biodiversity also through measures for sustainable production and sustainable supply chains;
  • Protect and conserve at least 30 per cent of land and oceans by 2030 through representative, well connected, managed and effective systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, with focus on areas particularly important for biodiversity;
  • Commit to working for a functional planning, reporting and review mechanism to be a part of the framework; and to quickly start the process of aligning national policies with the new global framework after its adoption;
  • Engage a broad set of actors in the Nordic community on the development and scaling up of effective actions, including indigenous peoples and local communities, local and subnational governments and authorities, academia, women and youth groups, as well as business, financial and economic sectors and non-governmental organizations.

Reaffirm our commitment to implement and work towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals relating to the ocean, and underline the importance of support to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), as well as the importance of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Nature Restoration (2021–2030).

Welcome additional work to further develop the knowledge base for improving the marine environment, such as:

  • An up-to-date picture of scientific knowledge as well as traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities on important factors for the success of conserving or restoring marine ecosystems and ecosystem services under a changing climate;
  • Developing a common understanding of “sustainability” in the environmental component of sustainable development in relation to oceans and their ecosystems;
  • Knowledge on the importance of marine ecosystems for carbon sequestration and storage, and how the ability to absorb and store carbon can be preserved and strengthened;
  • Expected effects of conservation measures for industries and value creation based on renewable resources and harvesting from marine ecosystems, such as in fisheries and in bioprospecting for the food and medicine industry.

Encourage the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) to consider the need for synthesizing the scientific knowledge and strengthening the knowledge foundations for the most effective means of reinforcing marine ecosystems by conservation or restoration measures, to ensure good environmental status, resilience and maintenance of key ecosystem services under a changing climate.


Copenhagen 12 May 2021

Signed by

Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Finland


Lea Wermelin, Minister for Environment, Denmark


Per Bolund, Minister for Environment and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister, Sweden


Sveinung Rotevatn, Minister of Climate and Environment, Norway 


Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister for the Enviroment and Natural Resources, Iceland


Kalistat Lund, Minister for Agriculture, Self-Sufficiency, Energy and Environment, Greenland


Helgi Abrahamsen, Ministry of Environment, Industry and Trade, Faroe Islands


Alfons Röblom, Minister of Development, Åland