01.03.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector

Presentation of a blueprint for the ocean and coasts for Rio+20 to the European Parliament

Cover, A blueprint for ocean and coastal sustainability: Interagency paper towards the preparation of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)

Our ocean covers over 70% of the globe. Its health and the wellbeing of humanity and the living environment that sustains us all are inextricably linked. Yet neglect, ocean acidification, climate change, polluting activities and over exploitation of marine resources have made ocean one of the earth’s most threatened ecosystems. This has put in peril not only the life forms that inhabit the planet, but the aspirations of humankind for prosperity and economic growth within the context of sustainable development.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) provides a unique opportunity to assess progress and, above all, to catalyse and focus the international community to work for renewed and concrete ocean commitments. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC) is keen to play an advocating role for the ocean through the Rio+20 preparatory process, and to encourage Member States to integrate, as far as possible, the importance of the ocean in sustainable development strategies and plans. Engaging key Rio+20 stakeholders such as the European Union, through their institutions, is therefore critical.

The European Parliament, MEP Kriton ARSENIS and UNESCO-IOC have organized an information session on 6 March 2012 to debate on the ocean and Rio+20. It will be an opportunity to present and discuss some of the key issues affecting the ocean and people that depend on it, as well as opportunities and solutions for addressing these challenges. This meeting will also be the occasion to review the Rio+20 process, including the state of the negotiation process and next steps.

In preparation for Rio+20, UNESCO-IOC, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), have prepared a Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability. This paper provides a context for the Rio+20 discussions through analysis of current challenges in ocean and coastal management around the world. More importantly, it puts forward a concrete set of proposals and objectives to transition to a Blue-Green Economy, the only path to sustainable development and peace.

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