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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where do we go from here? Rio+20

The panelists for the oceans theme with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Brazil, Julio Bittelli (center).
Photo credit IISD Reporting Services.
Moderator Phillipe Cousteau from CNN addresses the panel.
Photo credit IISD Reporting Services.

Photo credit IISD Reporting Services.

As many of you know, yesterday concluded the Sustainable Development Dialogues of Rio+20. These Dialogues were a great effort on the part of the Brazilian Government to involve civil society in the debates and discussions on ten very important themes. The panel for Oceans featured a prestigious line up of 'ocean luminaries' all there to make a plea for the oceans. The occasion was graced by the presence of H. M. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden and H. M. Queen Silvia, Queen of Sweden.

If you missed the live webcast of the event please click here. Its available in English and Portugese. There was a lot of varied thought and comments on the state of the oceans and how to tackle the issues. I would urge anyone interested in the state of the planet to watch this and the other dialogues. Here's a summary of my thoughts:

1 We need action not just words

2 The ocean needs more than one dialogue

3 Education is key to solving problems

4 The top down approach does not work on its own. While we need governance frameworks we can't depend on governments alone. Each of us must take responsibility.

The statement I made will be available as a separate blog post. Please look out for it.

I strongly supported the rest of the panel in the decision to support a framework of governance for the high seas. The high seas is all seas that are out of national jurisdiction...that is a good 50% of the ocean. Basically because it is beyond the area under regulation of individual countries there is a huge and very real risk that it will be used and abused freely and this is something we have to prevent. Declaring protected areas in these parts and implementing regulations will have their own complications, but its a much needed start. If we don't do it now, we may lose our only chance.

Other issues discussed highlighted the need for the removal of harmful fisheries subsidies, stakeholder consultation prior to launching activities, the need for the control of pollution and understanding the link to land based pollution, education, outreach and implementation.

For more information about the event click here and here.


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