For geopolitical, historical and cultural reasons, the sea is a key factor in the process of constructing the Portuguese identity, of our perception of the world and of the role we play in international relations.
From this point of view, Maritime Affairs take on an undeniable strategic importance for Portugal, especially since the Oceans have been gaining an increasingly important position at the international level, which is why today these matters are spreading across a vast area of action and touching different competences.
In this multidimensional and increasingly demanding context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Directorate-General for Foreign Policy (MFA/DGFP) plays a key role, in line with its powers for the coordination of external action by the Portuguese State: protecting the national interests by coordinating the external action of the State, harmonizing and giving coherence to the various dimensions of that exercise (the political and diplomatic dimension, the legal dimension and the technical dimension with regard to highly specialized matters).
In addition to these coordination tasks, it should be noted that, in matters of sovereignty in which Maritime Affairs are relevant to the external action of the State (in particular, the political and diplomatic dimension and the legal dimension of sovereignty issues), the MFA/DGFP takes on a leadership role in cooperating with the relevant sectoral entities, in particular the Ministry of the Sea.
The monitoring of Maritime Affairs carried out by the MFA at a multilateral level is based on, and framed by, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In that context, we monitor the functioning of the bodies created by the Convention, which represent the interests of the country within their scope, as is currently the case with regard to the process of evaluation of the proposal for the extension of the Portuguese continental shelf.
Considering the importance of the sea, not only for our country, but also for the future of our planet, Portugal has been actively working on an international level, in particular within the United Nations, to promote a global mobilization for the protection of the oceans and seas and for the sustainable exploitation of marine resources, supporting the strengthening of a global governance of the oceans to ensure that this goal is achieved.
In this context, Portugal was one of the countries that promoted the establishment of an autonomous goal dedicated to the oceans in the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goal 14, in addition to playing a major role in the first United Nations Ocean Conference, being appointed, together with Singapore, as co-facilitator of the negotiations on the final political document of the Conference, entitled "Our ocean, our future: call for action”.
On the other hand, in line with the commitment undertaken in the document "The Future We Want" of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference, Portugal has been supporting the development of a new international legal instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, whose formal negotiations are expected to begin as early as 2018.