Aims and purpose

The Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects (Regular Process) is a global mechanism established by States after the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa. It aims to regularly review the environmental, economic and social aspects of the state of the world’s oceans, both current and foreseeable. Its purpose is to contribute to the strengthening of the regular scientific assessment of the state of the marine environment in order to enhance the scientific basis for policymaking.


The Regular Process is an intergovernmental process guided by international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other applicable international instruments. It is accountable to the United Nations General Assembly. The General Assembly, in resolution 65/37, decided that the Regular Process would be overseen by an Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole composed of Member States under the leadership of two Co-Chairs, one from a developed country and one from a developing country. They are appointed by the President of the General Assembly in consultation with regional groups. Observers of the United Nations, relevant intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council are also invited to participate in the meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole. Relevant scientific institutions and major groups identified in Agenda 21 may request an invitation to participate in its meetings. A 15-member Bureau (composed of three Member States per regional group), established in 2012, puts into practice the decisions and guidance of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole during intersessional periods. The Bureau, under the leadership of the Co-Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole, usually meets monthly.


2002: The World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, brought together tens of thousands of participants to focus the world's attention and direct action toward achieving sustainable development. The outcome document from that summit was the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI). The JPOI included among its requests the establishment by 2004 of a regular process under the United Nations for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socioeconomic aspects, both current and foreseeable, building on existing regional assessments.

2003: The General Assembly set in motion the first steps to set up the Regular Process (58/240), including by requesting the Secretary-General to convene a group of experts to produce a draft document with details on the scope, general framework and outline of the regular process, peer review, secretariat, capacity-building and funding.

2005: The General Assembly launched the “Assessment of Assessments” as the start-up phase of the Regular Process (60/30).

2006-2009: Work on the Assessment of Assessments, and options for a framework for the Regular Process (see report 64/88).

2009: The General Assembly endorsed the recommendations adopted by the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole that proposed a framework for the Regular Process (64/71).

2010: The General Assembly endorsed recommendations that proposed modalities for implementing the Regular Process, including the key features, institutional arrangements, capacity-building and financing (65/37 A). The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea was designated as the secretariat of the Regular Process

2010-2014: The first cycle of the Regular Process.

2016-2020: The second cycle of the Regular Process.

2021-2025: The third cycle of the Regular Process.