Four UN agencies concerned with the protection of the marine environment have outlined their joint proposals to improve the management of coastal areas and oceans with the goal of achieving deliverable actions at next year’s Rio +20 conference.

Four UN agencies concerned with the protection of the marine environment have outlined their joint proposals to improve the management of coastal areas and oceans with the goal of achieving deliverable actions at next year’s Rio +20 conference.

The Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability was presented at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris and calls for greater attention to the health of the world’s oceans.

The paper was publicised during the 36th session of the General Conference and was organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The goal is to take its proposals for consideration by the UN conference on sustainable development (UNCSD), which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.

Seas At Risk has also given a detailed submission to the Rio +20 process, calling for urgently needed actions to protect against oceanic collapse. See the link below to read the full Seas At Risk submission.

The UN document outlines ten proposals :
• Create a global blue carbon market as a means of creating direct economic gain through habitat protection
• Fill governance gaps in the high seas, by reinforcing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
• Support the development of green economies in small island developing states
• Promote research on ocean acidification- how to adapt to it and mitigate it.
• Increase institutional capacity for scientific monitoring of oceans and coastal areas
• Reform and reinforce regional ocean management organisations
• Promote responsible fisheries and aquaculture in a green economy
• Strengthen legal frameworks to address aquatic invasive species
• “Green” the nutrient economy (fertilizers for example) to reduce ocean hypoxia and promote food security
• Enhance coordination, coherence and effectiveness of the UN system on ocean issues.

The paper also highlights that 60% of the world’s major marine ecosystems have been degraded or are being used in unsustainable ways, entailing considerable economic and social losses. According to the report, for example, across the globe mangrove forests have lost 30 to 50 per cent of their original cover and coral reefs have lost 20 per cent. As a consequence, the loss increases the vulnerability of many highly populated coastal areas.

The international community promised to discuss the necessary actions to mitigate these challenges at the Summits of Rio (1992) and Johannesburg (2002). However the commitments that resulted from those conferences were largely ineffectual and their objectives have not been met. The report points out that a shocking 400 marine areas across the worlds oceans have been listed as “biologically dead” to date.

The report also clearly highlights the battle of protecting the world’s marine environment: Although the oceans represent 70% of the surface of our planet, only 1% of it is protected.

 

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