United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has launched the Oceans Compact — an initiative to strengthen United Nations system-wide coherence in delivering on its oceans-related mandates — on Sunday, 12 August, in Yeosu, Republic of Korea.
Mr. Ban has launched the initiative at the Yeosu International Conference to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The new Compact, “Healthy Oceans for Prosperity — An Initiative of the Secretary-General”, aims to bring all parts of the United Nations system together in improving the coordination and effectiveness of its work on oceans.
Mr Ban says that human beings have put the oceans at risk of irreversible damage through overfishing, climate change and ocean acidification, increasing pollution, unsustainable coastal-area development and unwanted impacts from resource extraction, resulting in loss of biodiversity, decreased abundance of species, damage to habitats and loss of ecological functions.
The Oceans Compact aims to mobilise and enhance the United Nations system’s capacity to support action by Governments while promoting the engagement of intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, scientists, the private sector and industry to tackle challenges in protecting and restoring the health and productivity of the oceans for the benefit of present and future generations. It sets out a strategic vision, consistent with the Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future We Want”, in which countries agreed on a range of measures to be taken to protect the oceans and promote sustainable development.
In addition, the Oceans Compact supports the implementation of relevant existing instruments, in particular the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. With the goal of achieving “Healthy Oceans for Prosperity”, the Compact establishes three objectives:
protecting people and improving the health of oceans;
protecting, recovering and sustaining ocean environments and natural resources; and
strengthening ocean knowledge and management.
Besides providing a platform for all stakeholders to collaborate and accelerate progress towards promoting healthy oceans, the Compact will be underpinned by pragmatic short-, medium– and long-term strategies aimed at increasing coordination and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels, as well as within the United Nations system. The intention is to address the cumulative impacts of sectoral activities on the marine environment, including by implementing ecosystem and precautionary approaches.
In the Compact, the Secretary-General proposes the creation of an oceans advisory group comprising the executive heads of the United Nations system organisations involved, high-level policymakers, scientists, leading ocean experts, as well as representatives of the private sector, non-governmental organisations and civil society. The advisory group would also advise on strategies for mobilising the resources needed to implement the Oceans Compact Action Plan.
The upcoming launch of the Oceans Compact will follow the Secretary-General’s announcement earlier this year of his Five-year Action Agenda, which includes oceans as a main category. In that context, he decided to give strong emphasis to the importance of oceans and their role in sustainable development by putting forward the idea of an oceans compact that would commit the United Nations system to furthering “healthy oceans for prosperity”.
Especially significant is the timing of the initiative as 2012 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. The instrument is considered of strategic importance as the basis for national, regional and global action and cooperation in the marine sector, and as an important contribution to the maintenance of peace, justice and progress for all the world’s peoples.
(Source: UN Press Release, 10.08.2012)