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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 consumers.

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 management.

Concurrent dialogue session on engaging decisionmakers and the public.
Reports from Working Groups, and WSSD and MDG Assessment Efforts and Discussion

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 resolution.

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 issues.

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 islands.

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 inaction.

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.

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)