Report warns that a failure to quickly respond to problems poses greatest threat to oceans

The full text of the First Global Integrated Marine Assessment, conducted by some of the world’s foremost experts on ocean issues for policymakers, was released online today.

The full text of the Assessment had been presented to the General Assembly in December, which welcomed it with appreciation and approved its Summary.  It was the first time that the General Assembly was provided with a comprehensive scientific and socioeconomic Assessment to guide its decisions on oceans.

The Assessment, also known as the first “World Ocean Assessment,” can be found on the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea’s website, at

One of the main findings of the Assessment were that delays in implementing solutions to the problems that have already been identified as threatening to degrade the world’s oceans will lead, unnecessarily, to incurring greater environmental, social and economic costs.

The Summary of the Assessment, approved by the General Assembly, found that the sustainable use of the oceans cannot be achieved unless the management of all sectors of human activities affecting the oceans is coherent. “Human impacts on the sea are no longer minor in relation to the overall scale of the ocean. A coherent overall approach is needed.”

In the 55-chapter Assessment, the ocean experts highlight the many pressures facing the ocean resulting from human activities. The experts warn that the impact of human activities on the oceans has increased dramatically, particularly the cumulative impacts, and the oceans’ carrying capacity is near or at its limit. The experts conclude that the greatest threat to the ocean comes from a failure to deal quickly with the manifold problems examined in the Assessment.

The World Ocean Assessment also examines gaps in knowledge, as well as gaps in the capacity-building needed to utilize the information currently available or gained in the future. It calls for taking a holistic look at the state of the oceans—identifying  where more information is needed—and supporting efforts to share and act upon that information.

The World Ocean Assessment is not intended to be a policy document, but rather to reinforce the science-policy interface by providing a scientific basis for informed decisions on ocean issues by governments and other policy makers. The General Assembly encouraged States to consider the Assessment in various processes, such as the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, and recognized the supporting role of the Assessment in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The World Ocean Assessment is a major milestone in the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects, which was set in motion in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It also provides the foundation for future assessments under the Regular Process. Such assessments are extremely relevant to the recently-adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly its ocean-related goals.

The report can be found at

For further information, please contact Dan Shepard, UN Department of Public Information, 1 212 963-9495, e: