UN Working Group Reports Progress on Second World Ocean Assessment
UN Photo/Martine Perret
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The 'Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects,' released a report on its second meeting in 2017.

The publication reports progress on raising awareness on the first 'World Ocean Assessment' and preparations for a second ocean assessment.

The first cycle of the Regular Process focused on establishing a baseline while the second cycle aims to evaluate trends and identify gaps.

November 2017: The Co-Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole has transmitted a report to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) as part of its agenda item on ‘Oceans and the law of the sea.’ The report highlights progress towards a second ‘United Nations World Ocean Assessment’ and outlines recommendations to the UNGA.

The report titled, ‘Report of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects (A/72/494),’ presents the group’s work during its ninth meeting, which convened at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from 6-8 September 2017. The meeting addressed a number of topics, including: the launch of technical abstracts from the first World Ocean Assessment and related awareness-raising activities; progress in preparing for regional workshops; progress in designating national focal points and nominations to the Group of Experts; and capacity-building activities.

During the meeting, the group launched three technical abstracts of the first World Ocean Assessment on: conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ); the ocean and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and the impacts of climate change and related changes in the atmosphere on oceans.

Participants stressed the importance of regional workshops for successful implementation of the programme of work for the second cycle of the Regular Process, for the period 2017-2020. The first round of workshops in 2017 include: Lisbon, Portugal in September 2017; Auckland, New Zealand, in October 2017; Camboriú, Brazil, in November 2017; Bangkok, Thailand, in November 2017, hosted by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and Zanzibar, Tanzania, in December 2017, hosted by UN Environment (UNEP). A multi-stakeholder dialogue and capacity-building partnership will take place in early December 2017.

On a second world ocean assessment, the meeting agreed there should be one comprehensive assessment as an output of the second cycle of the Regular Process. The Working Group recalled that the first cycle of the Regular Process focused on establishing a baseline and that the second cycle should evaluate trends and identify gaps. Participants agreed to present proposed elements of the report during the first round of workshops in 2017 to facilitate collection of regional-level information and data to support the report’s preparations.

The Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole recommends that UNGA reiterates the need to strengthen scientific information on the marine environment to enhance the basis for policymaking and reaffirm the importance of the first World Ocean Assessment. The Group further recommends that UNGA recall the importance of, inter alia: raising awareness on the first World Ocean Assessment; and the Regular Process for ongoing ocean-related intergovernmental processes and its possible inputs, including the 2030 Agenda, the development of an international, legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in ABNJ, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Working Group recommends ensuring compatibility and synergies between assessments, including reports such as the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) and reports prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The Working Group proposes to convene two meetings in 2018: one in the first half to approve the assessment’s outline; and one in the second half to provide recommendations to the UNGA on the preparation of the assessment. [Publication: A/72/49] [UN World Ocean Assessment] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on First World Ocean Assessment]

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