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UN Agencies Release Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability Ahead of UNCSD

1 November 2011: Several UN entities have issued a Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability, which highlights the role of oceans in sustainable development and offers recommendations ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) jointly prepared the inter-agency paper. It was presented at a side event held on 1 November 2011, in Paris, France, during the 36th session of the General Conference of UNESCO.

The Blueprint provides an overview of the threats faced by the oceans, including unsustainable use, deforestation of mangroves, disappearance of coral reefs, ocean acidification and climate change. It further highlights the role of oceans in regulating the climate, contributing to food security and sustaining livelihoods.

The Blueprint outlines necessary steps to limit the degradation of oceans and address issues such as overfishing, pollution and declining biodiversity. Among the measures proposed by the Blueprint are: creating a global blue carbon market as a means of creating direct economic gain through habitat protection; filling governance gaps in the high seas by reinforcing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); supporting the development of green economies in small island developing States (SIDS); promoting research on ocean acidification, specifically how to adapt to it and mitigate it; increasing institutional capacity for scientific monitoring of oceans and coastal areas; reforming and reinforcing regional ocean management organizations; promoting responsible fisheries and aquaculture in a green economy; strengthening legal frameworks to address aquatic invasive species; "greening" the nutrient economy; and enhancing coordination, coherence and effectiveness of the UN system on ocean issues. [Publication: A Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability] [UNESCO Side Event Webpage] [FAO Press Release] [IMO Press Release] [UNESCO Press Release]