Report

Ocean Earth: How Rio+20 Can and Must Turn the Tide

The human population will reach 7 billion by October of 2011 and is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050. As the global population continues to rise, humanity's dependence on healthy and productive ocean ecosystems will increase. Despite this dependence, governments continue to authorize activities that threaten the health and productivity of the ocean. Overexploitation of fish stocks, destruction of marine ecosystems and a steady trend in biodiversity loss threaten the food security, economic stability and livelihoods of tens of millions. In spite of some fisheries management efforts, global fish stocks continue to experience serious declines with stocks on the high seas particularly at risk.

Various measures to promote the protection of biodiversity on the high seas have been agreed to at the international level; however, the international community has largely failed to implement these measures. At UNCSD in 2012 (Rio+20), the international community must take urgent action to reform ocean governance to ensure the sustainability of global fish stocks and to ensure legal instruments are in place to facilitate the protection and long term sustainable use of marine biodiversity.

The previous two Earth Summits, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED ) in 1992 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD ) in 2002 together with the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provide a framework for achieving sustainable development. However, implementation has been incomplete and many gaps remain, particularly for the ocean.

The international community at Rio+20 must take urgent action to implement these existing commitments and take additional steps to ensure the health and sustainability of the marine environment.

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