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United Nations launches Oceans Com­pact Initiative

pub­lished 12 August 2012 | mod­i­fied 05 Decem­ber 2012

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.

The world’s oceans are key to sus­tain­ing life on the planet, con­sti­tut­ing a con­duit for 90 per­cent of world trade, and for con­nect­ing peo­ple, mar­kets and livelihoods
UN Secretary-​General Ban »

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)

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