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Third Global Conference on
Oceans, Coasts and Islands
Moving the Global Oceans Agenda Forward

UNESCO, Paris | January 24-27, 2006

Italy Urges Biodiversity at Oceans Conference

On Thursday, participants in the Third Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands heard panel presentations and engaged in discussion on developing capacity for oceans and coastal management, regional dialogue and cooperation in the Mediterranean, improving high seas governnance, and the relationship between oceans and climate. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the UN Millennium Project, made a special presentation on the challenges developing countries face in protecting their natural environments. In the late afternoon, participants engaged in concurrent dialogue sessions on the connection between freshwater and oceans, next steps in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), tsunami and disaster preparedness, next steps in capacity development, bioprospecting in the high seas, and oceans and climate.

In the evening, Italy's Ministry for the Environment and Territory held a reception for conference participants, marking its endorsement of the "Countdown 2010" intiative to stop the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010. Above: after announcing Italy's support for "Countdown 2010" and challenging other nations to join in supporting the initiative, Aldo Cosentino, Director-General, Nature Protection, Italy, listens as Biliana Cicin-Sain, Co-Chair and Head of the Secretariat, Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, addresses participants at the reception.

Thursday, 26 January
Panel 8: Capacity Development for Oceans and Coastal Management: Mobilizing to Address Needs

Introducing the session, Co-Chair Indumathie Hewawasam, World Bank, reported from the Capacity Development Task Force, and urged implementation of the Task Force's recommendations.

Co-Chair Ralph Cantral, Chief, National Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Ocean Service, US NOAA, explained that the panel would respond to questions and comments from the floor.

Co-Chair Thia-Eng Chua, Regional Programme Director, PEMSEA, called on donors and multilateral lending agencies to engage with countries whose "democratic space" has newly opened up.

Robin Mahon, Caribbean LME Programme, argued that indigenous academic institutions in SIDS should encourage their students to remain in-country to contribute to domestic development.

Mary Power, South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, suggested that professionals who have emigrated make a positive contribution by exerting influence in international fora.

James Hardcastle, Technical Advisor for Island Conservation, Nature Seychelles, underlined the need to engage with community members that have the power to persuade others.
Panel 9: Regional Dialogue and Cooperation: The Mediterranean Case

Paul Mifsud, Coordinator, Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), UNEP Regional Seas Programme, described the Protocols under the Barcelona Convention. He said the Protocol on pollution from land-based activities has led to the development of a strategic action programme and national action plans, complemented by a large-scale capacity-building programme.

Marie-Christine Van Klaveren, Executive Secretary, Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black and Mediterranean Seas and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), highlighted its legally binding action plan, which tackles pollution, noise, loss of habitat, and fishing activities, including by-catch.

Zoran Šikić, Assistant Minister of Culture, Republic of Croatia, described the national legal regime for the conservation and sustainable use of the Croatian coastal and marine environment, highlighting the creation of protected coastal zones, special marine reserves, national parks and an Adriatic MPAs network.

Ivica Trumbic, Director, Regional Activity Centre for Priority Actions Programme (PAP/RAC), MAP, noted the political, cultural, environmental and social complexity of the Mediterranean and identified unsustainable exploitation of its resources as a key issue in the region.

Gennaro Longo, Chief, Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences and Technology, International Center for Science and High Technology, UN Industrial Development Organization, described the Center's activities, highlighting it aims to strengthen and promote sustainable use of coastal and marine resources through the development of supporting tools for integrated coastal management.

Sami Marrouki, Executive Director, Mediterranean Renewable Energy Centre (MEDREC), stated that the Mediterranean Renewable Energy Programme provides sustainable energy services, particularly to rural populations, to contribute to climate change mitigation by increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy mix of the Mediterranean basin.
Panel 10: Improving High Seas Governance

Stressing the importance of UNCLOS, Co-Chair Ascencio Herrera stated that the Convention does not define marine scientific research, and there is also no internationally agreed definition of bioprospecting of the international seabed area. He called for further studies and underlined the need to address, coherently and harmoniously, all issues relating to marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction within the UNCLOS framework. He argued that the UN General Assembly is the appropriate forum for debating these issues as it plays a key role in promoting cooperation and coordination and in ensuring integrated approaches.

Tullio Scovazzi, Bicocca University of Milan, Italy, pointed out that marine scientific research is not defined but regulated by UNCLOS, whilst bioprospecting is not specifically mentioned in the Convention. He said this lacuna must be tackled by a new agreement on MPAs.

Alex Rogers, Biological Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey, elaborated on deep sea biodiversity and fishing activities. Stressing that the deep seabed houses a startling biodiversity, much of which is still unknown, he described its unique ecosystems, including seamounts, coral reefs and hydrothermal vents.

Co-Chair Salvatore Arico, Programme Specialist, Biodiversity, Division of Ecological Sciences, UNESCO, presented a paper by Abdul Zakri, UN University-Institute for Advanced Studies, on trends in deep seabed research, which he said is going on at an increasing pace. He noted a shift in the focus of deep seabed expeditions from geophysical and geological purposes to ecological, biological and bioprospecting ones.

Vladimir Golitsyn, Director, UNDOALOS, called for further targeted marine biodiversity research, which he identified as highly sophisticated, costly and labor intensive. He recognized the need for better cooperation between governments, institutions, scientists and industry engaged in marine biodiversity research in order to share costs and information, increase geographical cover and ensure the participation of developing countries.

Norma Taylor-Roberts, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Jamaica, expressed concern over the lack of a legal regime to regulate bioprospecting. Calling for a wider acceptance and implementation of UNCLOS, she advocated concluding a new agreement under UNCLOS to address bioprospecting, rather than developing a new convention.
Special Presentation
Addressing the conference via a live video connection from Africa, Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University, Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the MDGs, argued that despite the plethora of statements, goals and laws aimed at poverty reduction and environmental protection, there is little follow through on work programmes. He said developing countries are unable to protect their natural environments because: they cannot afford to increase their environmental capital; vested interests strip countries of their resources without distribution of profits; the global economic paradigm is forcing countries to adopt unsustainable economic models; and they lack the scientific knowledge with which to determine the best course of action. During the subsequent discussion, Sachs addressed the importance of including the environment in countries' PRSPs, ensuring that information relating to the environment is disclosed and projecting scientific consensus concerning the state of the oceans. He affirmed his belief in the strength of the tools available to policymakers to spur action on the ground.
Panel 11: Oceans and Climate

Panel Chair Robert Corell, Chair, Artic Climate Impact Assessment, gave an overview of the recent scientific findings on climate effects on oceans, stressing that since the oceans contain 97% of the Earth's water, they are the thermodynamic engine of the planet. He listed current and projected effects of climate change on oceans, including sea level rise, biodiversity loss, the disappearance of Greenland's icecap, and thinning of the Arctic sea ice.

Noting accelerating climate variability, Ambassador Gunnar Palsson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Iceland, said the availability of reliable scientific data is crucial, and called for increased resources for research on the risks and benefits of the impact of climate change on oceans, and improved integration of scientific data into the public domain.

Halldor Thorgeirsson, Deputy Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), explained that the Kyoto Protocol allows for use of market tools to mitigate climate change and that the last UNFCCC COP has set the base for the development of a future strategy.

Ambassador Enele Sopoaga, Tuvalu, Vice Chair, Alliance of Small Island States, underscored the impact of climate change on SIDS, as illustrated by the recent increases in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the South Pacific. He argued that SIDS cannot begin to develop sustainably until climate change is comprehensively addressed, and urged developed nations to intensify their mitigation strategies and support SIDS's efforts to implement adaptation strategies.

Highlighting climate change-related sea level rise and acidification, John Shepherd, Tyndall Centre Regional Associate Director, Southampton Oceanography Centre, stated that any adaptation strategy must be: concentrated on reducing physical and social infrastructure in coastal areas; planned regionally whilst being focused locally; supported by government institutions; and long-term.

Ellina Levina, Climate Change Analyst, Environment Directorate, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, presented on integrating scientific knowledge into policymaking. She called for: appropriate strategies and institutional and legal frameworks to allow for the development of a science-based policy framework; mechanisms that identify key players and information; clear communication of scientific data to policy makers and local stakeholders; and additional research.
Concurrent Dialogue Sessions on Achieving Synergy

Dialogue session on high seas governance: bioprospecting in the deep seabed.

Dialogue session on next steps in SIDS.

Dialogue session on tsunami and disaster preparedness.

Dialogue session on freshwater to oceans.

Dialogue session on next steps in capacity development.

Dialogue session on oceans and climate.
Evening Reception by the Ministry of Environment and Territory, Italy

Participants were welcomed to the reception by Aldo Cosentino, Italy's Director-General, Nature Protection, and Ezio Bussoletti, Scientific Advisor, Permanent Delegation of Italy to UNESCO.

Participants enjoyed a wide variety of hors d'oeuvres...

...and wines from Italy's Berlucchi family.

Related Links

Conference Web Site
Preliminary Detailed Program
Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands
SIDS Mauritius 2005
Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, 2003
Global Conference on Oceans and Coasts at Rio+10, 2001
Center for Marine Policy, University of Delaware
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
UNEP GPA Coordination Office
Small Island Developing States Network (SIDSnet)