• Lead-organizer: Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)
  • 09:00 - 10:30
  • Date: 20 Jun 2012
  • Room: T-9

Wendy Watson-Wright, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and ADG of UNESCO takes about the optimism the IOC have seeing so many leaders and institutions coming together for Oceans Day saying that it has not been enough of
Know our Ocean, Protect our Marine Treasures, Empower Ocean Citizens

Organizing partners

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) (lead organiser), in association with
- World Meteorological Organisation
- Fond Tara,
- Government of Denmark
- Sandwatch Foundation,
- UNESCO World Heritage Centre


The ocean, our common heritage, covers over 70% of the globe?s surface. The ocean shapes Earth?s climate and influences the distribution of ecosystems, biodiversity, and thus food availability across the globe. This single, contiguous body of water is an absolutely essential component of human lives. Yet, despite the scientific research promoted via international cooperation over the past 50 years, the ocean remains relatively unexplored. Moving towards sustainable development of the ocean requires strengthening global scientific efforts to fully comprehend and protect coastal and marine environmental health, as well as to conserve biological diversity, and mitigate the impact of ocean threats. Sound ocean management requires developing the appropriate tools and mechanism to protect ocean resources, biodiversity and to sustain livelihoods that are compatible with healthy ecosystems. Finally, the transition towards such a blue-green approach will require a shift in human behavior which can only be instrumented through ocean education and awareness-raising leading to the emergence of a true ?ocean citizenship?.

Detailed programme

This side event will be the occasion to discuss and present a number of initiatives that supports the Rio+20 ocean targets leading to the sustainable use of the ocean. The side event will be structured around three inter-connected themes and set of questions:

(i) Know our ocean: How can science and technology be put at the service of coastal nations for managing ocean and coastal resources sustainably, and for protecting their coastal populations, and maintaining ecosystem services.
Much of the ocean remains unexplored and many ocean characteristics are still unknown. Yet, knowledge is the first step toward sustainable use of the ocean. We cannot protect and preserve what we do not know. This first part of the event will stress the importance of science and observation for sustainable management of the ocean. It will focus on the importance of observing systems, data collection and monitoring. It will also consider how science and early warning systems can help coastal communities to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change and coastal hazards. This theme will also have a specific focus on ocean and freshwater linkages particularly in developing strategies for coping with natural disasters at the interface of the sea and land.

(ii) Protect our Marine Treasures: How can we better preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the ocean and coasts and the essential services that ocean provides to society? Sustainability also implies having the appropriate tools and mechanisms for protecting and conserving for future generations marine and coastal resources, whether these are natural, cultural or aesthetic assets. This segment will have a specific focus on the importance of marine protected areas and new efforts underway aimed at identifying and protecting some of the richest marine environments, at consolidating coastal ecosystems, and at developing new relationships between people and oceans so that we can continue to appreciate the beauty and the bounty of our seas. Currently, forty-five marine areas are currently inscribed on the World Heritage List for their exceptional natural features. Together, they cover 1/3 by surface of all MPAs on the planet and include five of the world's largest MPA's.

(iii) Empower Ocean Citizens: How do we empower ocean citizen and society? Effective Ocean stewardship requires the participation of all part of society in defining a common ocean future and in promoting behavioural change towards the ocean. The ocean is our common heritage and it is important to not only raise awareness on those issues but also to empower those who can act to protect the ocean. It is essential to focus on training, decision-making skills, team building, fund-raising and cooperation. Sustainable use cannot be achieved without the support of empowered coastal communities. This last part of the event will be the occasion to deepen existing cooperation on ocean awareness, education and advocacy.

This event will highlight how the undivided ocean needs inter-related actions to approach sustainable use of its resources.

Panel Speakers tentatively include:

• Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
• H.E. Minister Villy Søvndal, Foreign Minister of Denmark
• Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
• Patricia Miloslavich, Marine Biologist (Census of Marine Life)
• Clayton Lino, Mata Atlantica Coastal and Marine Biosphere Reserve, Brazil
• Dr. Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, CEO of the Seychelle Islands Foundation
• Etienne Bourgois, President of Tara Expeditions
• Gillian Cambers, Co-director of Sandwatch Foundation
• Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Future

The Panel will be chaired by Dr. Wendy Watson-Wright, Executive Secretary, IOC.
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