The protection of the world’s oceans look set to be given greater prominence at Rio+20, but the recently published draft outcome document needs significant strengthening if this important opportunity is to result in the urgent actions that are needed to save our seas.

The protection of the world’s oceans look set to be given greater prominence at Rio+20, but the recently published draft outcome document needs significant strengthening if this important opportunity is to result in the urgent actions that are needed to save our seas.

At previous UNCED conferences, the wellbeing of the oceans have played second fiddle to terrestrial matters but this situation looks like it might now be changing.

The “Zero Draft” of the conference outcome document contains a number of key marine issues already raised by Seas At Risk that need to be addressed if the collapse of oceanic systems is to be avoided.

The emphasis on seas and oceans is also supported by UNEP who have identified the potential collapse of oceanic systems as a key “emerging issue” for the Conference.

That said, the Zero Draft requires more action-oriented language and explicit goals in order to ensure that states, industry and citizens act on the outcome of Rio+20.

Too many global summits have come and gone without the sorts of declarations that enforce action. Rio+20 can do this but more ambition and work is needed before the final conference in Rio in June this year.

The “Zero Draft” and Seas At Risk’s input to it – including proposals in respect of the protection of fish stocks, the need for further research on ocean acidification and a direct call for a global marine litter action plan – can be found under ‘Sea Views’ on the Seas At Risk homepage.