Malta’s Ocean Diplomacy

Produced By M. Micallef, Date: Jun 18, 2020
Image shows participants at the First Ocean Ambassadors meeting in Malta


The first thing that comes to mind when one mentions Malta and the oceans is the Declaration by Malta’s former representative to the United Nations, Arvid Pardo, in 1967, for the deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction and the resources contained therein to be declared the Common Heritage of Mankind. It expresses the desire for the global commons which constitute elements inherent to our natural environment to be administered in such manner as to benefit all of humankind.


What many may not be aware of is that this declaration also highlighted the need for the problems of ocean space to be considered as a whole, through an integrated approach. This received widespread support and is now reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. In order to facilitate the achievement of this vision, last year Malta hosted the first Ocean Ambassadors meeting together with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on the Ocean. Malta is only one of a handful of countries to have a dedicated Ocean Ambassador, Prof. Alan Deidun. Thanks to this initiative, we were able to bring around one table representatives of the UN, the Commonwealth, the EU, international organisations like the IMO and the FAO, and representatives of countries leading or hosting major initiatives on the oceans.

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Image shows participants at the First Ocean Ambassadors meeting in Malta

In recent years, technological developments and increased knowledge of what lies beneath the ocean have resulted in several initiatives aimed at safeguarding our oceans and ensuring the sustainable use and protection of its resources. One such initiative is the Commonwealth’s Blue Charter. The Blue Charter brings together a number of Action Groups to discuss and propose ways to tackle common challenges and encourage the development of a sustainable ocean economy which is especially important for island states. We know today that a truly sustainable ocean economy has boundless potential to provide clean, renewable energy, to enhance society’s resilience to climate and coastal shocks, and provide remedies, food and livelihoods for millions of people. It is not without its challenges – for example clean shipping requires affordable clean fuel and technology. As we continue to build better, greener, bluer, economies and societies, it is important for nobody to be left behind. As diplomats from an ocean state and one of the largest shipping registers in the world, our efforts are directed towards maximising Malta’s potential as we seek common solutions and enhanced cooperation for the benefit of all.


M. Micallef

Officer in Scale 4​