28.10.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

Four United Nations agencies launch ocean preservation plan

© UN - Cover, A blueprint for ocean and coastal sustainability: Interagency paper towards the preparation of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)

Overfishing, degradation of coastal areas, pollution and declining biodiversity are seriously affecting the health of the ocean. To address these problems, four United Nations agencies have prepared a plan to improve the governance of oceans and limit their degradation. The Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability will be presented on 1 November at an event devoted to the oceans at UNESCO Headquarters (1 to 3 p.m., Room IX).

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, will open the event – “Oceans at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Building ocean and coastal sustainability and greening the Blue Economy”. The Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), Wendy Watson-Wright will also be present.

The event is one of the highlights of the 36th session of the Organization’s General Conference. It aims to encourage Member States to renew their political commitment to ocean health ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.

The Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability was produced jointly by UNESCO - IOC, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

At stake is the need to limit ocean acidification and the decline in biodiversity while setting up more effective institutional mechanisms to protect both the ocean and coastal areas. Representatives of all four agencies will present the ten recommendations featured in the Blueprint.

The ocean accounts for 70% of the surface of the Earth, but only one percent of their area benefits from protection. Sixty per cent of major marine ecosystems are damaged or over-exploited. Thus, mangroves have lost 30 to 50% of their original surface area and coral reefs have regressed by 20%, increasing the vulnerability of densely populated coastal areas. The ocean absorbs close to 26% of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, increasing acidification which in turn is affecting plankton and, through them, the entire food chain.


                 Journalists wishing to attend should request accreditation


                                      Media contact: Agnès Bardon,

                                             UNESCO Press Service,

                                 +33 (0)1 45 68 17 64 a.bardon(at)unesco.org

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