Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands

The Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands was created by an informal coordinating group at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. With IOC as UNESCO focal point, the Global Forum is comprised of individuals from governments, IGOs, NGOs and the private sector, and serves as a platform for cross-sectoral information sharing and dialogue on issues affecting oceans, coasts and islands, with the goal of attaining sustainable development in these areas.

Among past activities, following a first conference in Paris in December 2001, the second Oceans, Coasts and Islands Conference was held at UNESCO House in Paris in November 2003. Conference sessions included that on ‘Small Island Developing States: the Issues in Mauritius 2004’, chaired by head of the SIDS Unit in UNDESA-New York, with presentations from three persons involved in Small Islands Voice (from Mauritius, Palau and St Vincent and the Grenadines). Other agenda items of interest to small island nations included sea-level rise, land- and marine-based pollution, encouraging the role of civil society in discussions on sustainable development, coral reefs, fisheries, integrated coastal management.

"Moving the Global Oceans Agenda Forward" was the focus of the Third Global Conference (Paris, 23-27 January 2006). Among twelve panel sessions, Panel 11 (on 26 January) focused on ‘Oceans and Climate’ and explored the effects that climate change may have on the world’s oceans, coasts and islands. Emphasis was given to four issues: ocean acidification, carbon sequestration, Arctic change and sea-level change.

The Fourth Global Conference (April 7-11, 2008, Hanoi, Vietnam) focused on "Advancing Ecosystem Management and Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management by 2010 in the Context of Climate Change". It brought together 439 ocean and coastal leaders from 62 countries, representing all sectors, including governments, intergovernmental and international organizations, non-governmental organizations, the business community, ocean donors, and scientific institutions. The conference assessed essential issues in the governance of the world’s oceans, with a focus on moving toward an ecosystem-based and integrated approach to oceans governance at national, regional, and global levels. For the first time, a concerted effort wasmade to bring oceans policy together with climate change issues.

The Fifth global oceans conference was held in France (3-7 May 2010) under the theme: "Oceans, Climate, Biodiversity: From Copenhagen 2009 to Nagoya 2010". Following the Conference, the World Ocean Network (leaders of the world's museums, aquaria, and other public outreach organizations) met for the 4th International Meeting "Acting Together for the Future of the Blue Planet" on 9-12 May 2010 (France) in celebration of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. The participants evaluated past and ongoing education and outreach activities on sustainable use of the ocean and drew up a joint action plan to further mobilize citizens and the civil society in the different regions of the world.

Among its channels for diffusing information, the Forum produces an electronically accessible newsletter.

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