IISD's SUMMARY REPORT
|30 JANUARY 2006
Third Global Conference on
Oceans, Coasts and Islands
Moving the Global Oceans Agenda Forward
UNESCO, Paris | January 24-27, 2006
Global Oceans Conference Concludes in Paris
On Friday, participants in the Third Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts
and Islands concluded their deliberations, hearing panel presentations
and holding discussions on engaging decisionmakers and the public.
Reports were then presented on the outcomes of panels and concurrent
discussion sessions held throughout the week. Fientje Moerman,
Vice-Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Flemish
Minister for Economy, Enterprise, Science, Innovation and Foreign
Trade, Belgium, gave a special presentation in the afternoon.
The conference closed with a concluding session, which ended at 6:35 PM.
Above: Fientje Moerman addresses the conference.
Friday, 27 January
Panel 12: Engaging Decisionmakers and the Public
Emphasizing the importance of a clear media message, Marie Laure de
Langhe, Communications Consultant, Sea Web, stressed that any campaign
must include: knowledge of the target audience; a tailored message; a
connection between science and policy; relationship building with
journalists; training of spokespersons; and positive choices for
Urging a focused approach to public engagement, Dann Sklarew, Director,
GEF International Waters:LEARN, detailed GEF International Waters
projects, explained the importance of including local leaders in
educational videos, and share lessons learned from workshops, distance
learning programmes and outreach work.
Ram Boojh, Centre of Environment Education, India, and Co-Chair, World
Ocean Network, noted the role of the UN Decade of Education for
Sustainable Development (2005-2014) in creating public awareness of
oceans issues, and outlined environmental education initiatives in India.
Guillermo Garcia Montero, President, National Aquarium, Cuba, and
National IOC Committee, elaborated on information and education
initiatives in Cuba. Stressing that understanding alone is not enough,
he said the public needs tools, orientation, norms, and ethical, social
and moral values to allow them to act.
Peter Neill, Director, World Ocean Observatory, called for radical
solutions in addition to current awareness activities. He said the
perception of the ocean as an integrated global social system calls for
a new ocean definition that emphasizes sustaining natural resources for
the benefit of humankind.
In subsequent discussion, Leah Nimoho, Vanuatu Environmental Unit, stressed
the need to collate best practices and and involve local people in
activities and decision making to promote ownership. She argued that
tangible on-the-ground results help influence decision making.
Concurrent Dialogue Sessions
Concurrent dialogue session on governance of high seas fisheries.
Concurrent dialogue session on next steps in African coastal and ocean
Concurrent dialogue session on engaging decisionmakers and the public.
Reports from Working Groups, and WSSD and MDG Assessment Efforts and
Reporting on the findings of several discussions of ecosystem management,
and integrated management of oceans and coasts, including regional
cooperation, Charles Ehler, IUCN, discussed the fact that "ecosystem
based management" has evolved to include a human dimension. He listed
positive factors, and reported a consensus on the fact that local
involvement in design and development of EBM projects is the single
biggest factor in guaranteeing their success.
Paul Holthus reported on the findings of discussions on next steps for
Business and Industry Leaders. Underscoring the importance of bringing
an inter-sectoral group of actors together, he noted the benefits to all
participants of: developing relationships and understanding; finding
areas of common interest; disseminating best practices; developing
partnerships and fostering sharing of science data.
Gerald Miles, Senior Advisor, The Nature Conservancy, reported on the
findings of a dialogue session on biodiversity and networks of marine
protected areas. He noted that although the WSSD's 2012 target on
establishing a comprehensive MPA network is not within reach, identifying
obstacles and gaps in knowledge, but said considerable efforts have been
made, and there is significant political commitment in many regions.
Ambassador Enele Sopoaga, Tuvalu, reported on panel discussions of SIDS,
noting progress achieved in SIDS' commitment to sustainable development,
improved waste handling, and public awareness campaigns. He listed
declining development aid, the need to formalize AOSIS, the impacts of
disasters, and EEZ and continental shelf delimitations among outstanding
issues, and made recommendations to address these issues.
Porfiro Alvarez-Torres, Director for Regional Integration, Mexican
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, noted discussion groups'
satisfaction with global level activities to implement the GPA, and
called for cooperation, dedication to implementation, and harmonization.
He said the need for management interlinkages should be a priority issue
at the upcoming World Water Forum, and stressed that action is needed at
the local level throughout watersheds.
Awni Behnam, President, International Ocean Institute, said the group
dialogue on the Global Marine Assessment and UN coordination had
expressed concern with the GMA's rate of progress and had wondered how
socioeconomic dimensions would be incorporated. Noting that the GMA is
currently relying on voluntary contributions, he appealed to governments
to contribute to the process in accordance with the relevant UNGA
Ali Mohammed, Mohammed, Regional Coordinator, Coastal and Marine
Secretariat, NEPAD, Kenya, reported on the dialogue on the role of
ocean and coastal management in reducing poverty. He recognized the
global commitments to reduce poverty as evidenced in the WSSD targets
and the MDGs, but noted that the international community is
"completely off track" on meeting these targets. He called for
a culture of transparency and disclosure, corporate social
responsibility, harmonization, and advocacy for debt relief.
Franklin McDonald summarized the discussions of the group on bottom line
assessment on progress on implementation of WSSD targets and MDGs. He
noted concern over the decline in ODA in relation to the BPOA
implementation and stressed the need for a UN spokesman on SIDS and
oceans issues. Outlining next steps, he called for increased education,
coordination, communication and funding.
Mary Power reported on the findings of discussions on next steps in
capacity building in ocean and coastal management, giving several
recommendations for the Global Forum in the areas of public outreach,
education and training.
Isabel Torres de Noronha, Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries
(CPLP), reported on CPLP deliberations, which took place from Monday
through Thursday. Noting CPLP participation in GPA IRC-2, she
announced the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between
Brazil and Cape Verde to cooperate in capacity building for integrated
coastal management and fighting oil pollution, and expressed hope that
other CPLP MoUs and concrete ocean policy actions will follow.
Reporting on discussions on high seas governance, Salvatore Arico
clarified that the group did not intend to negotiate or reach consensus,
but rather aimed to collect views on: the distinction between marine
scientific research and bioprospecting; trends in scientific
discoveries; current scientific knowledge; knowledge gaps; the need for
studies on socioeconomic impacts; ways to address uncertainties; and a
general way forward. He said the group felt that UNCLOS provides the
basic legal framework but needs to be strengthened to address high seas
Arvind Anil Boaz, SACEP, reported that the post-Asian tsunami debris
clean-up was progressing, coral reefs were being rehabilitated and
praised the international assistance to the fishery sector. He noted a
number of lessons that have been learned, reported on progress on
regional tsunami warning systems, and called for more scientific input
regarding multiple hazards.
On next steps in linking science and policy related to climate and
oceans, Magdalena Muir reported that the group recognized the threats
such as acidification, sea level rise, and increased severity and
frequency of storms that climate change poses to oceans, coasts and
Philippe Valette, World Oceans Network, summarized discussions on
engaging decisions makers, the media and the public. He said public
involvement is the key to successful oceans governance, and called for
an ambitious but realistic plan of action. Stressing the need to
highlight success stories, he urged the education of future leaders and
professionals and finances to support educational projects.
Indumathie Hewawasam reported on donor roundtable discussions on behalf of
Roundtable Chair David Freestone. She said the roundtable had stressed
the need for collaboration and information sharing, the importance of
raising the importance of oceans issues; and the need to carry out more
systematic progress monitoring.
Special Presentation: The Way Forward on Oceans and Coasts
Fientje Moerman, Vice-Minister-President of the Flemish Government and
Flemish Minister for Economy, Enterprise, Science, Innovation and Foreign
Trade, Belgium, emphasized the progress the international community and
Belgium has made with regard to oceans, coasts and islands and called
for more efforts on ecosystem approaches to coastal management, more
research on fisheries and the effect of agriculture to water resources
and communication strategies for scientist to better communicate and
feed their research into public and policy spheres.
Conference Concluding Session
Noting that over 70% of countries represented were developing or had
economies in transition, Biliana Cicin-Sain said the Conference provided
a forum for a dialogue across regions. She said the discussions gave a
mixed picture on WSSD targets and MDGs implementation and stressed the
lack of data on this implementation.
Veerle Vandeweerd underscored the usefulness of informal conversations
during the meeting.
Andy Hudson, GEF, on behalf of Al Duda, thanked all participants and
praised the Global Conference as valuable exercise.
Magnus Ngoile, Tanzania, underlined that the Global Forum has been
successful at building a constituency for oceans, coasts and islands.
Lori Ridgeway, Canada, noted the repeated calls for scaling down for
implementation and underlined the need to "think globally, plan
regionally, and act locally." She called for further integrating
science into decision making and carrying out research on the cost of
Julian Barbière, IOC, urged participants to be "oceans leaders"
and take the Conference's recommendations to their own constituencies.
He closed the meeting at 6:35 pm.
Around the 3rd Global Conference
Hard-working graduate students from the University of Delaware kept
the conference running smoothly: Kateryna Wowk, Amanda Wenczel,
Brandon Riff, Shelby Hockenberry, and Lindsey Williams.
Your IISD reporting team in Paris: Dan Birchall, Digital Editor, United
States; Alice Bisiaux, Team Leader, France; Nienke Beintema, Writer,
Netherlands; Harry Jonas, Writer, United Kingdom.