Enhance Coordination, Coherence and Effectiveness of the UN System on Oceans Issues


© United Nations

The current UN interagency mechanism relating to oceans and coastal issues, UN-Oceans, was created by the UN High-Level Committee on Programmes in 2003 to inter alia establish an effective, transparent and regular inter-agency coordination mechanism on ocean and coastal issues within the UN system, as well as to facilitate, as appropriate, inputs to the annual report on Oceans and the Law of the Sea of the Secretary-General. UN-Oceans operates as a flexible network to coordinate and review joint activities, establish interagency programmes of work and support the programmatic framework of recommendations from the JPOI and the ICP. Given the complex, multi-sectoral and multi-national nature of ocean issues, where management responsibilities are fragmented, there is a need for a stronger and more visible mechanism for foster dialogue, coordination and cooperative actions among UN Agencies. Strengthening and improving such coordination would enhance UN system delivery, performance and impacts and allow for more transparent and open procedures in addressing current and emerging issues at all levels. It could serve to reinforce assessment and monitoring and enable more coherent and strategic approaches among all UN agencies.

UNCLOS provides an integrated legal framework on which to build sound and effective regulations to the different uses of the ocean. These have been implemented by the UN specialised agencies and programmes over the last 30 years, including the members of UN Oceans since 2003. Nevertheless, severe limitations exist for monitoring and enforcing these regulations. National and international institutions are fundamentally weak. They are usually compartmentalised on a sector by sector division of duties and responsibilities, leaving little room for integrated policy-making or addressing issues that cut across several domains.

Failure to halt environmental degradation is at least partially caused by institutional weaknesses in developing and implementing policies on sustainable development. International environmental governance for the ocean (including UN Oceans) must be strengthened through:

  • Implementing what has already been agreed;
  • Creating a strong and accessible science base and policy interface;
  • Developing a global authoritative voice for environmental sustainability;
  • Achieving effectiveness, efficiency and coherence within the UN system;
  • Securing sufficient and predictable funding; and
  • Ensuring a responsive and cohesive approach to meeting the needs of countries.

Main objectives of the Proposal

1. Review UN-Oceans structure, function and achievements and consider strengthening for a more effective, crosscutting, high-level, and transparent coordination mechanism for ocean and coastal issues.

2. Various options and models such as a marine stewardship council, Inter-agency Platform (e.g. the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - UNAIDS), High-level mechanism in the Secretary General’s Office could be assessed in this context.

3. Review and strengthen institutional relationships between UNICPOLOS and the Commission on Sustainable Development in order to ensure that oceans are considered regularly within the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) work programme.

4. Ensure that an effective, UN Regular Process on Global Reporting and Assessment is supported to underpin the coordination processes that have been established.

5. States and international organisations to provide sufficient resources for the UNICPOLOS and UN coordination mechanism (UN-Oceans) to fulfil their roles.

6. Improve coordination and delivery of ocean interventions at the national level through One UN process.

7. Create actions that strengthen the LME project coordination among the UN agencies (UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, IOC/ UNESCO, FAO). Such efforts can lead to an additional USD 3 billion by 2020 for the LME approach for the assessment and management of ocean goods and services

Expected results

An enhanced UN-Oceans would improve interagency coordination, coherence and cost efficiency, lead to more strategic outcomes across UN system on oceans issues, promote joint programming building on comparative advantages of agencies on ocean matters, etc.

Back to top