Context

© Cat Holloway
Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati)

The objective of the RIO+20 Conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges.

The Conference will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.

The Importance Of The Ocean To Global Sustainability

Ocean and coastal areas are major contributors to the global economy and fundamental to global wellbeing; through direct economic activities, provision of environmental services, and as home to the majority of the world’s population. Thus, a healthy ocean is fundamental to achieving global sustainability. Moreover, the green economy is highly interconnected with sustainable ocean and coastal management. States can derive optimal economic and social benefits from a healthy ocean whilst protecting the environment for the long term by adopting the dimensions of a green economy and changing institutional frameworks accordingly.

Status of the International Ocean Commitments from Rio and Johannesburg: Progress and Gaps

Numerous international ocean and coastal commitments have been made over the past 20 years since Rio; some global in reach and covering multiple topics, and others more regionally or single sector or issue focused.  Considerable (but incomplete) progress has been made towards the Conference of Sustainable Development targets and goals, particularly in scientific understanding and monitoring, and in strengthening legal and policy frameworks, institutions and cooperation mechanisms.  Yet, some important commitments from Rio and Johannesburg have not been fully met. Overall progress in implementation of most of the international agreements in place has been slow.  Much of this is due to alternative political priorities, insufficient institutional capacity or inappropriate institutions, market distortions, incomplete science, lack of financing, and/or willingness of participants.

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