United Nations Secretary-General to Launch Oceans Compact Initiative at Yeosu International Conference, Republic of Korea, 12 August

10 August 2012
ENV/DEV/1316-SEA/1979

United Nations Secretary-General to Launch Oceans Compact Initiative at Yeosu International Conference, Republic of Korea, 12 August

10 August 2012
Press Release
ENV/DEV/1316 SEA/1979
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations Secretary-General to Launch Oceans Compact Initiative

at Yeosu International Conference, Republic of Korea, 12 August

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will launch 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 will launch 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 per cent of world trade, and for connecting people, markets and livelihoods,” Secretary-General Ban says in the Compact.  But he adds 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 mobilize and enhance the United Nations system´s capacity to support action by Governments while promoting the engagement of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, 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 organizations involved, high-level policymakers, scientists, leading ocean experts, as well as representatives of the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society.  The advisory group would also advise on strategies for mobilizing the resources needed to implement the Oceans Compact Action Plan.

Background

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.

The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea in the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs has been organizing a series of events at United Nations Headquarters to commemorate the Convention’s thirtieth anniversary, including a panel discussion held on World Oceans Day (8 June 2012, see www.un.org/Depts/los/reference_files/worldoceansday.htm) and the production of a video titled “UNCLOS at 30” (available at www.un.org/Depts/los/index.htm).

Continuing during the General Assembly’s sixty-seventh session, the commemoration will include two days of high-level meetings, 10 and 11 December 2012, and the publication of a pamphlet and a commemorative booklet on the Convention.

For further information, please contact Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information at tel. +1 212 963 9495; or e-mail:  mshepard@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.