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Thursday, 30 June 2011 11:58

Working for a Strong Outcome for Oceans, Coasts, and Small Island States in the Rio+20 Process

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Achieving the three pillars of sustainable development – economic development, social development, and environmental protection – is impossible without oceans, coasts, and small island States.  The world’s oceans play a central role in global climate processes, are a major source of energy, an important means of transportation, provide sustainable livelihoods as well as the essential elements for life, including food, medicines, and freshwater, and are an important source of cultural and spiritual value to millions of people around the world. 

Yet, climate change, unsustainable fishing practices, and the rampant destruction of marine ecosystems, habitats and species, among other impacts, are threatening the oceans’ ability to continue to provide these services.

A new vision for the sustainable development of oceans and coasts

Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, formulated and adopted at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), provided for an integrated and precautionary approach to the protection and sustainable development of oceans and coasts.  At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the world’s political leaders further committed to specific targets and timetables on the ecosystem-based approach and integrated management of oceans and coasts.  The Rio+20 Conference provides an important opportunity to take stock on progress made, or lack thereof, on these major ocean commitments, and craft a new vision for the sustainable development of oceans and coasts.

The Global Ocean Forum, which was first mobilized in 2001 to help governments place issues related to oceans, coasts, and small island developing States (SIDS) on the WSSD agenda, is working together with ocean leaders from governments, international organization, non-governmental organizations, scientific institutions, and the private sector to seize the opportunity to achieve a significant ocean outcome at Rio+20 through:

  1. Launching of the “Rio+20 Friends of the Ocean”, an informal collaboration of individuals, agencies, and organizations interested in working together for a strong outcome for oceans and coasts at Rio+20.  Get involved by contributing to the Friends of the Ocean blog (http://globaloceanforum.org/) and becoming a “Rio+20 Friend of the Ocean” by filling out the registration form found at: http://www.globaloceans.org/sites/udel.edu.globaloceans/files/FriendsOftheOcean.pdf.
  2. Drafting sets of policy analyses to assess progress made on the major ocean-related commitments from UNCED and the WSSD, and issue recommendations for advancing oceans and coasts through the major themes of the Rio+20 Conference (see draft plan for assessments at: http://www.globaloceans.org/sites/udel.edu.globaloceans/files/Rio20assessments-DRAFT.pdf).

 The new vision embodied at UNCED represented a major paradigm shift that changed the world and many of us around the world.  Twenty years later, we must take advantage of Rio+20 as an opportunity to assess where we began and what we have achieved, and to craft the way to a new future where we can all live and prosper in health and harmony with the oceans– the ‘blue’ in the Green Economy.

 

Kateryna Wowk, Global Ocean Forum

 

Become a Friend of the Ocean by filling out the Rio+20 Friends of the Ocean Registration Formhttp://www.globaloceans.org/sites/udel.edu.globaloceans/files/FriendsOftheOcean.pdf

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