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 Islands 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 & 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 5 (on 25 January) addressed ‘Implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for Small Island Developing States’. Chaired by the outgoing chair of the Alliance for Small Island States (AOSIS), discussants included panelists from Cook Islands, São Tomé & Principe, and Seychelles, together with the vice-chair of AOSIS and representatives of the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute, UNEP Caribbean Programme, South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme and Atlantic-SIDS. Other sessions during the Global Forum included those on ‘Island life – Island Biodiversity, Livelihoods and International Agreements’,‘SIDS, with emphasis on Ocean and Coastal Management’ and ‘Next Steps in SIDS’.

Results of the Paris Global Conference provided input to several subsequent conferences and meetings in 2006, including the Fourth World Water Forum (Mexico City, Mexico, 16-22 March), the seventh meeting of the UN Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (New York, 12-16 June) and the Second Intergovernmental Review of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (Beijing, China, 16-20 October).

The Fourth Global Conference (Hanoi, Viet Nam, 7-11 April 2008) had as theme ‘Advancing Ecosystem Management and Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management by 2010 in the Context of Climate Change’.

Among its channels for diffusing information, the Forum produces an electronically accessible newsletter, which includes information on the most recent and forthcoming Global Conferences. The Forum also has a special web section on SIDS.

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