Statement on the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s Contribution

© Paul Mauricio/Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

On 4 July 2011, the General Assembly of the Interngovernmental Oceanographic Commission adopted the following statement.
(annex to Resolution XXVI-5 (.pdf), Preparation for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development).

IOC’s Special Contribution to Sustainable Development

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO is the sole UN organization specializing in ocean related science, services and capacity development. It has been carrying out these responsibilities for fifty years.

This role has supported the objectives of UNCED and WSSD, notably in developing and coordinating for societal use, a global ocean observing system to forecast coastal and marine hazards, assess ocean change and conditions, and in building national and local capacity in marine science and sustainable management of oceans uses and their resources.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO's role in contributing to sound scientific research, systematic observations, and reliable services for effective management of human activities in marine and coastal areas is a key factor of sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

The IOC invites the Rio+20 preparatory process’ consideration of the following actions:

  • (i)     Prevent and reduce the impacts of natural hazards by further improving warning systems, as well as developing natural disaster preparedness strategies for marine threats.
  • (ii)     Contribute to mitigation and adaptation to climate change and variability through improved scientific understanding, building resilience of vulnerable coastal communities, and sustaining ecosystem services and resources. 
  • (iii)     Safeguard the health of ocean ecosystems by strengthening global scientific efforts to fully comprehend and protect coastal and marine environmental health, as well as conserve biological diversity through ecosystem-based approaches, and mitigate the impact of emerging ocean threats such as ocean acidification.
  • (iv)     Promote effective management procedures and policies leading to the sustainability of coastal and ocean environment and resources, by encouraging and assisting nations developing ecosystem-based coastal and ocean strategies, and strengthening existing intergovernmental mechanisms to plan and apply ocean management strategies.

To underpin the above, IOC reiterates the need expressed in paragraph 36 of Johannesburg Plan of Action (World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002) to expand observation of the global ocean and coastal seas and, furthermore, to find mechanisms for sustaining those observations, as well as maintaining the required level of scientific research and knowledge.

The IOC recognizes that capacity development and transfer of technology are keys for effective ocean management and governance. The IOC will continue promoting such capacity development and voluntary transfer of technology on mutually agreed terms to its Member States, particularly, Africa, LDCs and SIDS, to empower them with the knowledge and skills to benefit and manage oceans and coasts in an equitable and sustainable way.

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