Increase Institutional and Human Capacity for Sustained Observations, Monitoring, Marine Research, and Evaluation of Progress Toward International Commitments

Rationale

© Alicia Navidad, CSIRO, Australia
Since the program began 10 years ago, 3000 Argo profiling floats such as this one have provided oceanographers with a three-dimensional view of the water column down to 2 km.

The formulation of sustainable, ecosystem-based policies and measures for oceans and coasts needs to be supported by science including research and observations, and their implementation requires strong institutional frameworks at national, regional and global scales.
Policy making and implementation related to sustainable development must begin, and end, with collecting and analysing data and information about what is happening, including information on natural systems (physical, chemical, and biological providing ecosystem services), and on relevant related human systems (institutional, implementation effectiveness, social and economic information). The ocean is no different. This has been recognised by the UNGA and the WSSD, which have both called for a mechanism for the global reporting and assessment of the ocean, which will have to rely on sustained observations and monitoring of the ocean, human impact on the ocean, and relevant governance at multiple levels. In 2005, the UNGA launched the start-up phase of the Regular Process, called the assessment of assessments, to initiate such a mechanism. After completing the start-up phase, the Regular Process has entered its first cycle (2010-2014). It is critical that UN Member States fulfil commitments made in 2002, and provide the Regular Process with appropriate support so that the planned global assessment can be delivered in 2014, in time for the CSD review of the ocean, and thereafter on a five-year basis.

Scientific monitoring and assessment are essential to provide best possible advice in identification of impact of management options and where there is uncertainty, to use the precautionary approach and adaptive management that allows change in practice over time as scientific evidence increases. Although scientific monitoring and research are strong in many developed countries, greater institutional capacity is required in developing countries and at the international level. The oceans remain the least explored and understood part of our planet.

Capacity development remains an issue of central importance to developing states and SIDS, which have continued to reiterate this priority in various fora, such as the 2010 meeting of the UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (2011). In addition to weaknesses at the national level for scientific monitoring, there is no single agency within the international community responsible for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of global environmental programmes, targets and institutions such as those arising from Rio and the JPOI. It is therefore impossible to comprehensively and consistently evaluate progress at a global, regional or national level.

Main objectives of the Proposal

1. Promote a science-policy mechanism at national and regional levels through the UN Regular Process as a key mechanism to ensure that emerging issues are promptly reviewed and properly addressed in various decision-making and regulatory frameworks.

2. Improve the readiness of the GOOS to meet the requirements for global ocean assessment, in addition to requirements for climate, through reinforcement of national and intergovernmental action.

3. Commit Member States and international financial institutions to provide appropriate means for the Regular Process to operate.

4. Conduct a global and regional assessment of capacity development needs in the field of ocean management, governance, marine scientific research, and observation and develop and implement a global strategy for addressing these needs, through partnership with member states, donors, UN agencies, global financial institutions, and the private sector.

5. Promote effective conservation and management measures in developing countries by scientifically assessing environmental factors and trends, including climate change and ocean acidification.

6. Appoint an international body charged with collecting and collating national, regional and international information on oceans and coastal areas for program, target and institutional evaluation purposes.

7. Develop agreed tangible outcomes against which to report and demonstrate implementation success of international programmes and targets.

Expected results

Improved knowledge of impact of human activities and a stronger scientific basis for decision-making will provide a more secure foundation for decision making and allow effective adoption of the precautionary approach and adaptive management.

An agreed evaluation framework and indicators against which to assess progress by a single agency would assist progress toward the sustainable development of oceans and implementation of agreements. This will contribute to the coming together of the three pillars of sustainable development through the regular collection and assessment of information on the social and economic wellbeing of coastal communities by a singular body charged with monitoring and evaluation.

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