The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), known as the Earth Summit or Rio+20, will take place in Brazil in 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
In 2011, there are a number of meetings scheduled in preparation for the lead up to the UNCSD. These meetings will look to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development and assess the progress to date (and the remaining gaps) in the implementation of the outcomes of previous summits on sustainable development. Additionally, UNCSD will focus on two specific themes:
- A green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and
- An institutional framework for sustainable development.
While the Rio+20 agenda is ambitious and examines a plethora of environmental issues, there is insufficient emphasis on examining the human-caused influences which threaten the sustainability of ocean ecosystems and marine resources. Our oceans are in peril. Overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, destructive fishing practices and inadequate fisheries management have contributed to the systematic destruction of the marine environment and the species that reside within it.
The Pew Environment Group looks to global leaders to address key environmental issues impacting the ocean in the lead up to the UNCSD. There can be no healthy planet Earth, no “green economy,” and indeed no sustainable future for humanity without a healthy ocean. Governments should continue the tradition of the Earth Summits and reach for a bold, courageous and visionary agreement at UNCSD to ensure the future viability of ocean ecosystems.