24.02.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector

IOC Joins New Global Partnership for Healthy Oceans

© The Economist The Economist, World Oceans Summit.

The ocean is an integral part of our planet, and is an absolutely essential component of human lives, livelihoods and the environment that sustains us. It is a single, contiguous body of water that encircles the globe, covering 70% of its surface. While the Ocean itself is undivided, its management is a complex web of inter-related, intertwined, converging and competing demands and interests. The scale of the challenges facing the ocean today is such that singular efforts by various organizations specializing in one aspect or area are not enough.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC) is part of a powerful coalition of governments, international organizations, civil society groups and private interests that are joining together under the banner of a Global Partnership for Oceans to address the blatant need for coordinated, global action and confront widely documented problems of over-fishing, marine degradation, and habitat loss.

When presenting the Partnership today at The Economist’s World Oceans Summit in Singapore, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said that it would bring science, advocacy, the private sector, and international public institutions together to advance mutually agreed goals for healthy and productive oceans, and “build on the excellent work already being done to address the threats to oceans, identify workable solutions, and scale them up.”

All organizations, countries and agencies supporting the Partnership are already involved in activities to protect the world’s ocean - which provides 15% of the animal protein consumed in the world, millions of jobs, and critical ecosystem services such as climate regulation, carbon storage and oxygen production. The key step is to mobilize all stakeholders around a set of shared goals.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission supports the initiative and will be an active partner. UNESCO-IOC has for over 50 years been promoting international cooperation and coordinating programmes in marine research, services, observation systems, hazard mitigation, and capacity development in order to understand and effectively manage the resources of the ocean and coastal areas. As such it has much to contribute to such an initiative and is well positioned to ensure a sound scientific basis for defining goals and actions.   

Further discussions will help define the new partnership’s specific agenda, in correlation with preparation for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The outcomes of Rio+20 will be of capital importance for the global environment in the coming years and ocean health is one of the key issues under discussion. The Global Partnership for Oceans will assist with implementation by supporting countries in meeting commitments for improved ocean management.

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Support for the Global Partnership for Oceans includes: a number of developed and developing countries and country groupings, including island nations; non-government organizations and advocacy bodies like Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy, Oceana, Rare and World Wildlife Fund (WWF); science bodies like the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); industry groups like National Fisheries Institute, and the World Ocean Council whose members rely on sustainable seafood supplies or are dependent on ocean resources; international organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Global Environment Facility, Global Ocean Forum, GRID Arendal (Norway), the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the World Bank Group.

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