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Luis Lombana and Diana Alonso (Left), the Ocean Innovators (center), Mr. Haoliang Xu, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (RBPPS), Ms. Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist Bureau for External Relations & Advocacy/Directorate, Bureau for Policy & Programme Support and Dr. Mary Matthews, UNDP Ocean Advisor (Right)
Under the slogan “Save our oceans, protect our future”, the governments of Kenya and Portugal have host in Lisbon the 2022 Conference on the Oceans, convened to study and analyze the necessary means to promote and promote SDG 14 (Conserve and use sustainably the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development) within the framework of the “Decade of the Oceans 2021-2030”.
This conference has taken place at a critical time when the world is coming together to mobilize, create and promote solutions to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. As part of the first stages of the recently launched Decade of Action to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Conference has promoted a series of much-needed innovative science-based solutions to start a new chapter in global action for the oceans.
Solutions for sustainable ocean management require the application of green technologies and innovative marine resources. New solutions to such major threats as acidification, marine litter and pollution, illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing, and habitat and biodiversity loss have also be addressed and discussed.
Plastics and marine pollution: innovations for SDG 14.1
The event has have the presence of Anders Grönvall, Secretary of State for Climate and Environment of the Swedish government, and the participation of Haoliang Xu. Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (RBPS), Andrew Hudson, Head of the Water and Ocean Governance Program of the United Nations Development Program; Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of the Maldives; Chun Kyoo Park, Head of the UNOSD Office and Ambassador Peter Thomson, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Oceans, among others.
The objectives established for this event have been achieved:
Share recent scientific studies on plastic pollution and raise awareness of the serious impact they have on the ocean
Present the new solutions designed to alleviate the problems generated by the presence of plastic in the seas
Discuss new approaches and solutions to tackle global plastic pollution
Urge organizations, public and business sectors, industries, and society, in general, to propose and contribute new ideas, technologies, and innovative solutions that contribute to accelerating SDG14.
The seminar has included in its program the celebration of a Round Table that has presented and analyze the solutions provided by the Oceanic Innovation Challenge of the United Nations Development Program (OIC/UNDP), where the seven awarded solutions in 2020 have been presented for accelerating the progress of SDG14: challenges, difficulties, advances and experiences obtained during the implementation and development of each winning project, among which is the “Nutrialgae” research project by Ficosterra.
Among more than 600 applications, the Ficosterra Nutrialgae project was chosen in 2020 by the United Nations Development Program as the only Spanish project participating in the Ocean Innovation Challenge (OIC) program, a tool created by the UNDP to promote the Goal of Sustainable Development (SDG) number 14.
Ficosterra’s “Nutrialgae” project proposed to demonstrate that the application of biostimulants made from seaweed extracts and microorganisms in crops allows for to reduction of conventional fertilization and, consequently, the contamination of aquifers and oceans while increasing average crop productivity by up to 15%.
The massive use of fertilizers of mineral origin annually generates 13 million tons of phosphorus and nitrogen not assimilated by crops that reach the seas and oceans from aquifers and rivers, causing large contaminated areas lacking oxygen, according to the UNDP.
With the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), a multidisciplinary team of agronomists and biologists from Ficosterra began field trials on broccoli in the summer of 2021 and laboratory, in collaboration with the Hassan II University Morocco, the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada, Baja California (CICESE) and GN Producers Navarro, in Mexico.
Trials are advancing at a good pace, especially in Mexico where crops with up to 20% more productivity have already been achieved using 30% less chemical fertilization. The key has been to complement conventional fertilization with biostimulants cystium-k® (a pure extract made of Macrocystis pyrifera algae) and ficosagro® (extracts of algae + microorganisms), inputs that prevent contamination of aquifers, rivers, and seas caused by non-productive waste not assimilated by crops of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from conventional fertilizers.
January 2022: photo field trials: GN Agricultural Producers: T0: Control area: Conventional fertilization, without biostimulant treatment./ T1: Area treated with biostimulants, reducing 10% of conventional fertilization / T2: Area treated with biostimulants, reducing the 20% conventional fertilization / T3: Area treated with biostimulants, reducing the 30% conventional fertilization
March 2022. Morocco. Hassan II University collaborates with Ficosterra in laboratory and field tests. The photograph shows the moment of harvesting and weighing the broccoli in the field trials
The FAO points out that soil erosion of farmland washes away between 25,000 and 40,000 million tons of topsoil annually, significantly reducing crop yields and the soil’s ability to regulate water, carbon, and nutrients; and transports 23-42 million tons of nitrogen and 15-26 million tons of phosphorous, negatively affecting water quality. (FAO/ITPS, 2015a).
The Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada, Baja California (CICESE) and GN Productores Agrícolas have been the entities that have collaborated with Ficosterra in the laboratory and field tests carried out in Mexico applying the biostimulants ficosagro® and cystium-k®
made of 100% natural origin and certified for organic agriculture. They have been applied to broccoli both in the greenhouse and outdoors during the last agricultural season 2021–2022.
Luis Lombana, Ficosterra´s CEO
According to statements by Luis Lombana, CEO of Ficosterra “the first data that the tests are exceeding our initial expectations and provide proof so that we can see in facts that sustainable and more productive agriculture is possible. We have seen that the areas treated with biostimulants and 70% conventional fertilizers (T3) are the ones that have developed the most compared to the rest, but we still have to wait to see the evolution of the trials in this new campaign.”
In Ficosterra’s second international experience, that of Morocco, the greatest increases, of 20%, have been detected so far in the area classified as T1 (treated with biostimulants, reducing the 10% of conventional fertilization).
These trials are showing that their results are not only beneficial for reducing ocean pollution and increasing crop productivity. In both Mexico and Morocco, it has been seen that these trials also offer new opportunities for farmers, academia, and local researchers in the application of sustainable tools that make up 21st-century agriculture.
Much remains to be done to achieve the 2030 Ocean Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. By joining efforts, we can do it. At Ficosterra, we have already started.