Massive open Online Course (MOOC) ONE PLANET ONE OCEAN: Ocean Learning & Discovery – COURSE STARTS 14th June 2017!


By Magdalena AK Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Change, EUCC

One Planet – One Ocean: From Science to Solutions is a ten-week course presenting the challenges and opportunities facing oceans today. Led by the teams at GEOMAR, the International Ocean Institute, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, and Future Ocean, the course brings in some of the world’s leading experts on ocean science to present the issues and potential solutions grounded in rigorous scientific research.
EUCC is a longstanding member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a participant in the SDG Academy.
As such, EUCC supports this MOOC as means of extending understanding and information on the Oceans Sustaibility Development Goal, and overall oceans sustainability issues within Europe and adjacent oceans and regions, and particularly with respect to climate and other global changes.
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UN Oceans Conference in New York City from June 5 to 9, the Oceans Call to Action, and EUCC-Supported Side Event

By Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Global and Climate Change, EUCC

Given the importance of oceans to the global climate and the degree to which oceans are affected by climate changes, it is somewhat disheartening to have the UN Oceans Conference in New York City, immediately after the US has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Convention. This withdrawal and means to continue to respond to climate impacts on oceans will be front and center in the discussions in New York City in the coming week. Further reporting will also be provided during the coming week.

The UN Global Oceans Conference  will be highly attended (about 5000 participant) and first UN oceans conference which will raise the profile of oceans and focus on their sustainability internationally. The degree of participation and important of this event for the overall UN is discussed in the June 1, 2017 press conference:
http://webtv.un.org/watch/peter-thomson-general-assembly-president-and-wu-hongbo-desa-on-previewing-the-world-ocean-conference-5-9-june-2017-un-headquarters-press-conference-1-june-2017/5456057145001

The Call to Action
After three rounds of prior intergovernmental  discussions concluding on May 26, 2017, the draft Call for Action is the text of a concise, focused, intergovernmentally agreed declaration to be submitted to the Ocean Conference for discussion, revision, and formal adoption.
The text of the call for action is included  as a pdf here: 15259Final_Draft_Call_for_Action_PGA_Letter

Key areas in the Call to Action have  been of longstanding efforts for EUCC in Europe and internationally including climate change, sustainable fisheries and plastics. Some extracts from this call to action are provided below:

Climate change
4. We are particularly alarmed by the adverse impacts of climate change on the ocean, including the rise in ocean temperatures, ocean and coastal acidification, deoxygenation, sea-level rise, the decrease in polar ice coverage, coastal erosion and extreme weather events. We acknowledge the need to address the adverse impacts that impair the crucial ability of the ocean to act as climate regulator, source of marine biodiversity, and as key provider of food and nutrition, tourism and ecosystem services, and as an engine for sustainable economic development and growth. We recognise, in this regard, the particular importance of the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Scientific information and assessment
10. We stress the importance of enhancing understanding of the health and role of our ocean and the stressors on its ecosystems, including through assessments on the state of the ocean, based on science and on traditional knowledge systems. We also stress the need to further increase marine scientific research to inform and support decision-making, and to promote knowledge hubs and networks to enhance the sharing of scientific data, best practices and know-how.

 Role of international agreements and conventions
11. We emphasise that our actions to implement Goal 14 should be in accordance with, reinforce and not duplicate or undermine, existing legal instruments, arrangements, processes, mechanisms or entities. We affirm the need to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want.

Development of cooperative activities including climate, fisheries and plastics
13 (i) Implement long-term and robust strategies to reduce the use of plastics and microplastics, pmticularly plastic bags and single use plastics, including by partnering with stakeholders at relevant levels to address their production, marketing and use.
13 (k) Develop and implement effective adaptation and mitigation measures that contribute to increasing and supporting resilience to ocean and coastal acidification, sea-level rise, and increase in ocean temperatures, and to addressing the other harmful impacts of climate change on the ocean as well as coastal and blue carbon ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes, seagrass, and coral reefs, and wider interconnected ecosystems impacting on our ocean, and ensure the implementation of relevant obligations and commitments.
13 (I) Enhance sustainable fisheries management, including to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics, through the implementation of science-based management measures, monitoring, control and enforcement, supporting the consumption of fish sourced from sustainably managed fisheries, and through precautionary and ecosystem approaches as appropriate, as well as strengthening cooperation and coordination, including through, as appropriate, regional fisheries management organisations, bodies and arrangements.
13 (m) End destructive fishing practices and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, addressing their root causes and holding actors and beneficiaries accountable by taking appropriate actions, so as to deprive them of benefits of such activities, and effectively implementing flag State obligations as well as relevant port State obligations.
13 (n) Accelerate further work and strengthen cooperation and coordination on the development of interoperable catch documentation schemes and traceability of fish products. (o) Strengthen capacity building and technical assistance provided to small-scale and artisanal fishers in developing countries, to enable and enhance their access to marine resources and markets and improve the socio-economic situation of fishers and fish workers within the context of sustainable fisheries management.
13 (p) Act decisively to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, including through accelerating work to complete negotiations at the World Trade Organization on this issue, recognising that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of those negotiations.

In addition to the main conference, there are many formal and informal side events. EUCC has had a longstanding cooperation with the Global Oceans Forum and supports their side event on June 8, 2017:

EUCC-Supported Side Event

The Global Ocean Forum, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the Government of Grenada, the Government of Seychelles, the Oceano Azul Foundation, Portugal, and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Ocean Policy Research Institute, Japan, it is a pleasure to invite you to participate in our Side Event on Addressing Oceans and Climate and Building the Blue Economy: Essential to SDG 14 Implementation to be held on June 8, 6:15 to 7:30 PM, Conference Room 1, and to participate in the Roadmap to Oceans and Climate Action. The brochure for the side event is attached below.

Further Information

Final Draft of Call for Action  https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/15259Final_Draft_Call_for_Action_PGA_Letter.pdf
UN Global Oceans Conference https://oceanconference.un.org/
Global Ocean Forum http://www.globaloceanforum.com
Brochure for EUCC Supported Side Event found here: JUNE 8 SIDE EVENT OCEANS AND CLIMATE AND BLUE ECONOMY
UN Press Conference on June 1, 2017 http://webtv.un.org/watch/peter-thomson-general-assembly-president-and-wu-hongbo-desa-on-previewing-the-world-ocean-conference-5-9-june-2017-un-headquarters-press-conference-1-june-2017/5456057145001

Other Relevant Documentation

Resolutions and decisions
A/RES/70/226 – United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
[Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
A/RES/70/303 – Modalities for the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
[Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
Secretary-General Reports
Background note of the Secretary-General for the preparatory process of the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
[Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
Provisional agenda
Provisional agenda 
[Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
Concept papers for the partnership dialogues
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 1: Addressing marine pollution (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 2: Managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 3: Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 4: Making fisheries sustainable (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 5: Increasing economic benefits to small islands developing States and least developed countries and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 6: Increasing scientific knowledge, and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology (Advance unedited version)
Concept Paper on Partnership dialogue 7: Enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Advance unedited version)
Programme
Draft Programme of the Partnership Dialogues

Other documents
Briefing on the United Nations high-level oceans conference 2017: The trade and development perspective (16 Jan 2017)
Concept papers for partnership dialogues
Guidance note on Voluntary Commitments for SDG 14 and The Ocean Conference
Guidance Note Partnership Dialogues
Informal briefing by the President of the General Assembly on the ongoing preparations for the Ocean Conference (13 Dec 2016)

Inputs to the SG background note
DESA – Chapter 3. The Oceans, Seas, Marine Resources and Human Well-being Nexus
DESA – TST Issues Brief: Oceans and Seas
DESA – Mapping the linkages between oceans and other Sustainable Development Goals: A preliminary exploration
DESA – How oceans- and seas-related measures contribute to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: Local and regional experiences

The U.S. Is the Biggest Carbon Polluter in History. Will It Walk Away From the Paris Climate Deal?

Source: The New York Times

The United States, with its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air-conditioners, has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet.

“In cumulative terms, we certainly own this problem more than anybody else does,” said David G. Victor, a longtime scholar of climate politics at the University of California, San Diego. Many argue that this obligates the United States to take ambitious action to slow global warming.

Against that backdrop, factions in the Trump administration are engaged in a heated debate over whether to remain a party to the 195-nation agreement on climate change reached in Paris in 2015. President Trump promised on Wednesday to announce his decision at 3 p.m. Thursday in the White House Rose Garden.

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‘Vulnerable Voices’ Lash Out as Companies Sway Climate Talks

Source: The New York Times

Developing nations and environmental groups condemned the presence of corporate lobbyists at a climate change talk session in Germany, but the United States defended it.

Developing nations and environmental groups are challenging some of the world’s biggest companies and wealthiest countries over the role corporate lobbyists play in United Nations climate change negotiations.

The dispute opens an additional battle in the struggle over how to fashion a global response to climate change, one that corporate interests appear to be winning, for now.

Though companies are not permitted to participate directly in the climate talks, representatives from almost 300 industry groups are free to roam the negotiations in Bonn, Germany, as “stakeholders,” and to lobby negotiators on behalf of corporations that may seek to slow action, the developing nations and their allies say.

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Receding glacier and climate changes cause immense Canadian river to vanish in four days

Source: The Guardian

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A view of the ice canyon that now carries meltwater from the Kaskawulsh glacier, seen here on the right, away from the Slims river and toward the Kaskawulsh river. Photograph: Dan Shugar/University of Washington Tacoma

An immense river that flowed from one of Canada’s largest glaciers vanished over the course of four days last year, scientists have reported, in an unsettling illustration of how global warming dramatically changes the world’s geography.

The abrupt and unexpected disappearance of the Slims river, which spanned up to 150 metres at its widest points, is the first observed case of “river piracy”, in which the flow of one river is suddenly diverted into another.

For hundreds of years, the Slims carried meltwater northwards from the vast Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada’s Yukon territory into the Kluane river, then into the Yukon river towards the Bering Sea. But in spring 2016, a period of intense melting of the glacier meant the drainage gradient was tipped in favour of a second river, redirecting the meltwater to the Gulf of Alaska, thousands of miles from its original destination.

The continental-scale rearrangement was documented by a team of scientists who had been monitoring the incremental retreat of the glacier for years. But on a 2016 fieldwork expedition they were confronted with a landscape that had been radically transformed.

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Incited Wars Among the Classic Maya- A new study of the relationship between climate change and clashes among the Classic Maya explicitly links temperature increases with growing conflicts

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Does a warming world beget more wars? A new study that investigates the relationship between climate change and clashes among the Classic Maya believes so, drawing an explicit link between temperature increases and growing conflicts. The study, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, examined about 500 years of Maya history, from 363 to 888 AD. This is the so-called Classic period in which the Mesoamerican civilization boomed, with its people constructing extensive cities and massive pyramids, as well as developing one of the earliest writing systems in the Americas. Indeed, the Maya began a tradition of recording historical events on stone monuments.  
 
The researchers cataloged inscriptions on monuments related to violent struggles and compiled temperature and rainfall records for the regions inhabited during the Classic period: the lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula, which includes parts of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. A total of 144 unique conflicts emerged from inscriptions on monuments from more than 30 major Maya centers. The research team then compared conflict records to palaeoclimate data, and the correspondence was impressive. The change in conflict levels between 350 and 900 AD was considerable. The number of conflicts increased from 0 to 3 every 25 years in the first two centuries to 24 conflicts every 25 years near the end of the period. They noted the exacerbation of conflicts could not be explained by change in the amount of rainfall. It was instead associated with an increase in summer temperature.
 
Experts think that there are two potential mechanisms by which increases in temperature can lead to greater conflict. One is psychological — when temperatures rise, tempers shorten. Several studies suggest it is possible that increased average summer temperatures made the Classic Maya more bellicose. The other mechanism, is economic, and involves the staple crop for the Classic Maya: maize. Throughout the Classic period, average temperature fluctuated between 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) and 84.2°F (29°C). During periods when the temperature was around 82.4°F (28°C) or less, maize yields were reasonably stable, with little or no food shortage and little conflict. But as temperature continued to rise and the region experienced days at or above 86°F (30°C), crop shortfalls occurred frequently. Large-scale deforestation throughout the Classic period caused by urban expansion worsened the effect, increasing regional temperatures by reducing soil moisture availability. The result was food shortage, which led to spiking levels of conflict. With declining maize yields, a ruler could not have relied on opulent festivals or fed large labor forces needed to build impressive monuments. Consequently, going to war more often would have been an effective tactic to maintain status, prestige, and power. Eventually, the growth in conflict became explosive.
 
The researchers believe the findings have implications for the debate about contemporary climate change. Concern is growing that climate change effects would increase violence within and between human societies.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cautioned that climate change will exacerbate conflict at a range of scales, from inter-personal violence to civil war, while the US Department of Defense has classified climate change as a threat multiplier, suggesting that it could lead to political and social unrest and increased terrorism.  “
 
Further Information
 
Increasing temperature exacerbated Classic Maya conflict over the long term
 
Climate Change Incited Wars Among the Classic Maya

Earth’s oceans are warming 13% faster than thought, and accelerating

Source: The Guardian

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An Argo float is deployed into the ocean Photograph: CSIRO

New research has convincingly quantified how much the Earth has warmed over the past 56 years. Human activities utilize fossil fuels for many beneficial purposes but have an undesirable side effect of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates. That increase – of over 40%, with most since 1980 – traps heat in the Earth’s system, warming the entire planet.

But how fast is the Earth warming and how much will it warm in the future? Those are the critical questions we need to answer if we are going to make smart decisions on how to handle this issue.

At any time the direct effect of this blanket is small, but the accumulated effects are huge and have consequences for our weather and climate. Over 90% of the extra heat ends up in the ocean and hence perhaps the most important measurements of global warming are made in the oceans.

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