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Rio+20 : Submission
Ship and Ocean Foundation
Information
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Ship and Ocean Foundation
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Infrastructure (1 hits),

Full Submission

Proposal for Rio+20

Ocean Policy Research Foundation

<Proposal background>

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), adopted in 1982, came into effect in 1994; and in 1992, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the Sustainable Development Principle and the Plan of Action Agenda 21 necessary for its implementation was adopted. These made clear an international policy framework for comprehensive management and sustainable development of the ocean, which covers 70% of the earth?s surface. Also, at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), UNCLOS and Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 were recognized as fundamental documents concerning the ocean, and concrete goals and time schedules for their related measures were agreed upon. It is a fact that over the past 20 years many places around the world have added to this momentum and made great progress in environmental protection and conservation of the ocean and coastal zones and in sustainable development. UNCED and WSSD, along with the coming into effect of UNCLOS, have thus had tremendous impacts. However, there are many problems that remain unsolved concerning the ocean, existing problems that have worsened over time, and unexpected ones that continue to arise. In order for international society to formulate appropriate responses to the problems of comprehensive ocean management and sustainable development, including issues concerning jurisdictional water delimitation, conservation of the marine environment, appropriate fisheries management, securing of maritime transport safety, and adaptation to global warming, each country must address the closely interrelated problems of the ocean and of maritime affairs, and, under the auspices of UNCLOS and Agenda 21, respond to them in a comprehensive fashion.

The Ocean Policy Research Foundation is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC and makes ?Promoting Co-existence between Man and the Ocean? its guiding philosophy. Thus, recognizing the importance of sustainable development and comprehensive management of the ocean, as put forth by UNCLOS and Agenda 21, it has adopted an integrated approach in carrying out surveys, research, and implementation on a variety of ocean problems facing mankind. Of the seven programme areas in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, we have placed special emphasis on ?Integrated management and sustainable development of coastal and marine areas, including exclusive economic zones,? ?Marine environmental protection,? ?Strengthening international, including regional cooperation and coordination,? and ?Sustainable development of small islands,? carrying out a variety of activities in our capacity as an NGO. We view Rio+20 as an extremely important conference for discussing an Action Plan for the next ten years. Thus, we call for ?comprehensive ocean management? and ?sustainable ocean development? to be considered main pillars of the Agenda and included in concrete terms in the Programme of Action. To this end, we offer the following proposal:

<Proposal 1>

In order to secure the survival of the human race in the face of an ever-expanding population, it is indispensable that the ocean and coastal zones are effectively developed and used while conserving them under the concepts of comprehensive ocean management and sustainable ocean development. As humanity sets its Programme of Action for the next ten years, we must remain keenly aware that ?the problems of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be considered as a whole,? as stated in the foreward to UNCLOS. To achieve this, OPRF would like to express its strong desire that an independent chapter be devoted to the Ocean Agenda, ensuring that the importance of the oceans are clearly understood by international society. If a separate chapter is not possible, we strongly call for the Ocean Agenda to be presented in such a way as to be clearly understood in its entirety by governments and the general public.

<Proposal 2>

We propose that the Ocean Agenda referred to above include the following five measures:

1) promotion of comprehensive ocean policy 2) management of islands and their surrounding ocean areas 3) sustainable development of maritime industries 4) education of the public and 5) responses to marine disasters. The measures are discussed in detail below:

1) Promotion of Comprehensive Ocean Policy

Comprehensive management of the vast ocean that covers 70% of the planet requires that all countries share in a common legal and international framework. Each country needs therefore to establish an ocean policy system at the national level, coordinate its basic legal framework on the ocean, and make changes in its administrative organization necessary to implement ocean policy (e.g., a government-wide coordinating body and/or designation of a lead agency), thus allowing a comprehensive approach to ocean problems. We believe such a comprehensive approach to be extremely effective, as can be seen in the experience of those countries that have already made much progress in these initiatives; unfortunately, however, it is still not yet the universal practice. In Japan, a framework for comprehensively addressing ocean problems was created in 2007 with the passing of the Basic Act on Ocean Policy, which set out the basic philosophy, 12 basic measures requiring comprehensive initiatives, and the creation of an organization to comprehensively promote ocean policy. In order to manage the world?s oceans both comprehensively and appropriately, we believe it necessary that in future each country establish at the national level such a system for implementing comprehensive ocean policy. To accomplish this, the sharing of knowledge and experience concerning each country?s ocean policy is needed, along with the promoting of technological cooperation for developing countries as they set out to adopt comprehensive ocean policies.

→Specific Elements: c. Institutional framework for sustainable development

2) Management of Islands and Their Surrounding Ocean Areas

Today, islands are faced with various conservation and management challenges due to local environmental problems, global climate change and variability, and concerns about the submersion of islands caused by sea level rise. In order to respond to the various issues in the three areas of 1) Conservation and Management of Islands 2) Management of the Surrounding Ocean Areas and 3) Response to Climate Change and Variability, there is a need to acknowledge islands and their surrounding ocean areas as unified areas and implement sustainable development of island societies, as they carry out appropriate development, exploitation and conservation of the ocean through cooperation and collaboration between island States and the international community. In other words, regarding the Conservation and Management of Islands, there is a need to promote measures for developing island management strategies, improving the security and resilience of island societies, implementing waste management strategies, and developing renewable energy. For Management of the Surrounding Ocean Areas, there is a need to promote the establishment of baselines and maritime limits, implementation of practical fisheries management policy, the maintenance and securing of shipping services, exploitation of marine minerals in accordance with preservation of the ocean environment, and conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment and marine biodiversity. As for responses by island societies to Climate Change and Variability, adaptive measures must be promoted and relevant international law issues discussed.

Island States are being called upon to develop and adopt integrated policies and plans for oceans, coasts, and islands based on their respective social and cultural backgrounds, and then establish implementing institutions and organizations to address these issues. International society also has a responsibility to support the development and adoption of the policies and plans that result from island States? initiatives. (For more details, see the policy proposal ?For the Better Conservation and Management of Islands and Their Surrounding Ocean Areas? in Appendix 1)

→Specific Elements: d. Any proposals for refinement of the two themes

3) Sustainable Development of Maritime Industries

For the sustainable growth and development of the global economy, increased economic activity among countries, including developing States, is indispensable. Maritime industries center on maritime transport, which provides the fundamental Infrastructure for these trading activities and is thus an important industry that must continue to develop. At the same time, increases in maritime transport will require more ships, resulting in congested seaways and greater risk to the global environment. Maritime industries must therefore rapidly transform themselves to become clean industries of low-carbon and reduced environmental impact, though to do so new technologies and international guidelines will have to be developed through coordination and cooperation among international organizations, national governments, businesses, and research institutes. While regulations for emissions from ships, better training for seafarers, and other concrete initiatives are already underway, an industry-wide carbon footprint reduction initiative that takes into consideration the acceptable use of energy and emissions is urgently needed. Thought should be given to applying these initiatives to government ships as well as to commercial ones.

Also, from the standpoint of security, international society must stand firm in its response to the recent frequent occurrences of piracy and armed robbery, but there is also a need to create an anti-piracy and judicial framework to eliminate these threats. When doing so, there is also a need for clear guidelines on issues where States may have differing opinions, such as regarding what obligations foreign vessels, including government ships, have when operating in ocean areas under the sovereign and jurisdictional right of another State and what rules are necessary in these areas. (For more details, see the policy proposal ?Guidelines for Navigation and Overflight in the Exclusive Economic Zone? in Appendix 2)

→Specific Elements: d. Any proposals for refinement of the two themes

4) Education of the Public

Effective response to the closely interrelated problems of the ocean requires action not only at the national and governmental levels but by all the citizens of a State, thus making the increase of understanding and knowledge on the part of each citizen a necessity.

As put forth in Agenda 21, Chapter 36, education of the general public should be carried out both formally and informally, though formal schooling is potentially a highly effective means of impressing upon tomorrow?s leaders the importance of the ocean. This need to expand ocean education in formal curriculums should thus be recognized and promoted in each country?s ocean policy. However, care must be taken that implementation of this integration of ocean education into each country?s educational system proceed in harmony with existing educational policies, and its expansion calls for cross-sectional coordination within relevant ministries and agencies. In Japan, as Article 28 of the Basic Act on Ocean Policy advocates the ?Enhancement of Citizens? Understanding of the Oceans? and the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy includes measures on the ?Enhancement of Citizen's Understanding of the Sea and Fostering of Human Resources,? these goals now have a firm place in Japan? ocean policy. To implement them however, requires coordination with the education administration, which is now underway in cooperative efforts among universities, research institutes, industry, NGOs, and the private sector.

Also, as ocean problems imply a variety of subject matter to be addressed by many disciplines, an interdisciplinary approach to ocean education must be developed that is not limited to the natural sciences but includes the humanities and social sciences, and promotes research from an educational perspective. Towards that end, there is an urgent need to create a platform on which countries can share their advanced educational practices and knowledge.

→Specific Elements: d. Any proposals for refinement of the two themes

5) Responses to Marine Disasters

Upon the recent Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, tremendous damage was incurred due to the tsunami, in spite of all past efforts invested in scientific research and disaster preparedness. We would like here to sincerely thank the many people around the world for their generous support for the relief efforts. By way of gratitude, we would also like to share with the international community what we have learned from our experience, in the hopes that such damage might be reduced in future. As population density is high along the coasts and a great variety of human activities takes place there, and as the coastal zone and ocean areas are home to complex yet delicate ecosystems, when a natural disaster occurs it can have enormous effects on the society, economy, and environment of the area.

Although Agenda 21 and the WSSD Plan of Implementation confirmed the need for systematic natural disaster precautions in order to fully realize sustainable development, in many areas such as coastal zones and ocean areas that would most benefit from systematic disaster prevention its implementation is still insufficient. We should follow the wisdom of science in adopting precaution as a pre-condition and, with the ocean in mind, reconsider disaster prevention systems to increase the resilience of coastal countries in the face of natural disasters.

From our recent experience, Japan learned that even if severe damage is incurred the utmost priority must be given to preventing the loss of human life, and that a combination of ?hard? and ?soft? measures for ?disaster reduction? is necessary. We are now setting policies for comprehensive town reconstruction plans oriented to ?disaster reduction,? such as relocation of towns to higher ground or more effective evacuation routes and facilities if relocation is not feasible. It is also necessary to create early tsunami detection, prediction, and warning systems and view activities on land and ocean areas as an interdependent continuum in planning for town reconstruction. Along with these, we propose the sharing and examination, within international frameworks, of the knowledge on tsunamis accumulated by individual countries and international society at large for creation, improvement and expansion of disaster action plans and guidelines.

→Specific Elements: d. Any proposals for refinement of the two themes

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