UNDP observes World Oceans Day

Jun 7, 2013

(Photo: A. Chetvergov / UNDP)

As the world observes World Oceans Day on June 8, 2013, UNDP reflects on a year of significant milestones in the organization’s global efforts to protect and restore our oceans and coasts

A promising oceans outcome at Rio+20

The Rio+20 Outcome document, The Future We Want, featured twenty paragraphs devoted specifically to oceans and coastal areas.  The document reaffirmed important international commitments to reverse overfishing, restore coastal habitat, reduce ocean pollution, prevent introduction of alien species, and highlighted the new threat of ocean acidification and the need to take action.

UNDP, working with a range of United Nations and other partners, supported the development of a number of key ocean policy inputs to the Rio+20 process, including:

Oceans at Rio+20: How Well Are We Doing in Meeting the Commitments from the 1992 Earth Summit and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development? Summary for Decision Makers (UNDP, GEF, Global Ocean Forum)

Green Economy in a Blue World (UNEP, UNDP, FAO, IUCN, GRID/Arendal, World Fish Center, IMO, DESA)

A Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability (UNDP, FAO, IOC/UNESCO, IMO)

Frontline Observations of Climate Change and Sustainability of Large Marine Ecosystems (UNDP, GEF)

Steps forward to reverse threats to the world’s oceans

The world’s oceans and coastal areas are the source of trillions of dollars in goods and services every year —including food, transport, oil and gas, tourism, and minerals.  Healthy oceans are crucial to sustainable development.   

Oceans are an integral part of life on earth, regulating our climate and producing oxygen for the planet. “Yet they are under serious threat due to pollution, over-exploitation, habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change,” says the Head of UNDP’s Water & Ocean Governance Programme, Dr. Andrew Hudson.

Ocean degradation threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, primarily in the world’s less developed countries. Without concerted near-term effort, damage to ocean ecosystems may become irreversible, slowing efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable and equitable economic growth.  

On 14 December 2012, drawing on 20 years of experience in its International Waters portfolio, UNDP and the Global Environment Facility launched a report on how improved ocean policies can stimulate markets to restore and protect oceans and coastal areas.

Catalysing Ocean Finance: Transforming Markets to Restore & Protect the Global Ocean demonstrates in two volumes how a modest investment of public finance — around $5 billion over the next 10-20 years — can scale up ocean planning and policy tools, leverage hundreds of billions in financial flows, transform ocean markets, and reverse the global decline in ocean health.

“Our goal is to help both the public and private sectors create clear incentives and policies which will serve to protect the world’s oceans,” said Dr. Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF.  

Historic agreement by Caribbean states

On 11 March 2013, in Cartagena (Colombia), representatives of fisheries and environment ministries of 21 states from the Caribbean region agreed on a common roadmap for sustainably managing marine life.

The meeting was convened by the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem (CLME) Project, a multi-million dollar project implemented by UNDP in partnership with IOC/UNESCO, UNEP, FAO, several Caribbean regional organizations and the participating countries, and is co-financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The CLME covers almost 4.5 million square kilometers of marine space constituted by the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems.

The project area is well known for its rich biodiversity as well as for supporting a number of important fisheries, such as the Caribbean spiny lobster and queen conch. However, the region has been suffering from environmental degradation due to overfishing, pollution, invasive species (e.g., lionfish), and climate change.

Delegates reached consensus on the content of a 10-year Strategic Action Programme that ensures the sustainable provision of the goods and benefits derived from the region’s marine ecosystems.  It outlines the framework and guidelines necessary to reverse this trend by strengthening cooperation between participating countries affected by continued marine ecosystem degradation.

The world’s first large marine ecosystem legal framework

With the signing of the Benguela Current Convention on 18 March 2013, Angola, Namibia and South Africa committed to working together on the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME), one of the richest ocean ecosystems on earth.

Stretching from Port Elizabeth in South Africa, to the province of Cabinda in northern Angola, the Benguela Current is an area of ocean that produces goods and services estimated to be worth at least US $54.3 billion per year. Offshore oil and gas production, marine diamond mining, coastal tourism and commercial fishing and shipping are some of the most important industrial activities that take place in the region.

At the heart of the Benguela Current Convention is the cross-national agreement to use this valuable ecological and economic ecosystem in a way that balances its long-term preservation with the needs of the people whose livelihoodsdependent on its resources.

“It is the most effective way to achieve the sustainable management of the BCLME and ensure the sustainable future of the people who rely on it,” said Maria do Valle Ribeiro, who heads the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Angola.

UNDP joins the world in celebrating World Oceans Day with a spirit of renewed optimism for a sustainable oceans future.

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