By Magdalena A K Muir, EUCC Advisory Board
There are 20 paragraphs in the Rio+20 Conference Outcome Document “The Future We Want” (http://www.uncsd2012.org/thefuturewewant.html) on oceans and seas, and an additional three paragraphs on small island developing States , which stressed the critical role the oceans play in all three pillars of sustainable development, and a commitment to protect, and restore, the health, productivity and resilience of oceans and marine ecosystems, and to maintain their biodiversity, enabling their conservation and sustainable use for present and future generations .
One of the few concrete developments at Rio was an agreement to launch an “Oceans Rescue Plan” to protect the high seas. Though a majority of countries at Rio wanted to launch an Ocean Resuce Plan, the US, Venezuela, Russia, Japan prevented the majority from moving forward. Rio postponed the decision for a High Seas Biodiversity Agreement for a maximum of two years.
In addition to the formal outcome, the Rio+20 process included the opportunity for governments and other organizations to make voluntary commitments, allowing civil society to capture the opportunity as we move forward to the next phase of the sustainable development paradigm. There are currently five Rio+20 registered Voluntary Commitments in the category of Oceans, Seas, and SIDS, two of which were registered by the Global Ocean Forum. See for more information: http://www.globaloceans.org/sites/udel.edu.globaloceans/files/RioVoluntaryCommitments.pdf