Monday, November 7, 2011

Ocean Strategy: UN groups issue report as framework for international ocean conservation efforts

Four United Nations organizations jointly released a report recently that outlined 10 general steps as part of an overall ocean conservation strategy. The four groups - the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UN Development Programme, International Maritime Organization, and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization - released the report, Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability, as a means to lay down a unifying framework for international efforts.

Formal adoption of the report's recommendations is anticipated during the next United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (RIO+20) in June of 2012. The 10 steps are broad in scope, lacking in details or specifics. And that can always be a problem because once you wade into an issue, issues of cost or economic impact can raise their heads and that always seems to attract the lobbyists and industry-supporting diplomats. Backroom deals are cut and often the end result can be good intentions but little or no action.

Here are the ten measures listed in the report:
  1. Create a global market for ‘blue carbon’ or carbon dioxide stored in the oceans;
  2. Correct problems in governance on the management of the high seas by strengthening the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea;
  3. Support the development of a green economy in small island developing states;
  4. Encourage research on ocean acidification to adapt to it and mitigate it;
  5. Increase institutional capacities for scientific observation of the oceans and coastal areas;
  6. Reform and strengthen regional organizations in the management of ocean resources;
  7. Promote responsible fishing and aquaculture in the context of a green economy;
  8. Strengthen the legal frameworks to address the problem of invasive aquatic species;
  9. Green' the economy of nutrients to reduce hypoxia in the oceans and promote food security;
  10. Strengthen coordination, coherence and effectiveness of the United Nations in all activities related to oceans.
South America's MercoPress reported, According to the authors of the report, 'the full realization of many of the goals and objectives will require increased efforts by states, intergovernmental organizations and the international community.' Their goal will be successful if responsible policies and effective institutional arrangements are adopted, 'which will require a greater degree of commitment and funding from the international community, and also from the nations and the business world.'”

That's quite a handful, but with quantifiable deterioration of 60% of the planet's marine ecosystems in addition to nations and their citizens continuing to abuse natural resources rather than conserve and sustain them, let's hope that with a defined general framework of ocean conservation measures as a starting point, we will be able to fill in the blanks and accomplish needed specific objectives on an international level.

Download the Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability in PDF.
Read more about the 10 measures in the

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