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EU Statement – United Nations Ad Hoc Working Group on State of Marine Environment: Socioeconomic Aspects Featured

1 March 2018, New York – Statement of the EU and its Member States at the 10th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects

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Madame Co-Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

At the outset, we would like to express our continued commitment to this important work in progress. For our part, we can certainly assure you of our full support and cooperation in the course of your challenging task and the dedication you have already demonstrated towards its fulfilment.

Allow me also to express our gratitude to the members of the Bureau and the Group of Experts for their excellent work thus far. Furthermore, we would like to thank the Division for the Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the Office of Legal Affairs, acting as the Secretariat of the Regular Process and representing the United Nations at the conduct of the regional workshops to assist the second cycle of the Regular process, held in 2017.

Madame Co-Chair,

In this context, the EU and its Member States welcome the successful outcome of the five regional workshops[1] in 2017, including the one held in Europe (Portugal), to support the development of the assessment. This facilitated outreach, awareness-raising and capacity-building, through, inter alia, the identification and collection of data, the identification of regional priorities and the wider dissemination of the First Global Integrated Marine Assessment – World Ocean Assessment I.

We largely attribute this success to the Group of Experts responsible for developing the “Guidelines for the First Round of Workshops in 2017 to Assist the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects”.

Because each region and sub-region may have different priorities and different starting points for assessments, it is important in our view to emphasize the cross-cutting and transregional issues and requirements that unite us on a global level. Furthermore, this is crucial in our view because the cumulative effects of these global issues form an important element of the assessment.

Following the mandate of the General Assembly to focus on the baseline of the First World Ocean Assessment findings and to evaluate trends and identify gaps, the second cycle assessment  must consider the fast-changing dynamics of current and future trends and find a more appropriate, dynamic and efficient approach to these issues that clearly concern us all.

Recalling paragraph 296 of General Assembly resolution 72/73 of 5 December 2017, aimed at  strengthening the scientific basis for policymaking, the EU and its Member States strongly encourage a science-based and pragmatic approach to the outcomes of the Regular Process, in particular, to the interrelation of the Process with the ongoing ocean-related intergovernmental processes, including the development of an international legally-binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the follow-up process for the implementation and achievement of SDG 14 under the UN 2030 Agenda. Our focus lies herewith on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, including in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Therefore, we welcome the discussion held during the first round of workshops under the topic of considerations on how to make the second World Ocean Assessment most helpful to policymakers.

We also look forward to the second round of workshops whose objectives will be to build capacity, support the development of the future assessment, the collection of regional-level information and data for the preparation of the assessment, and facilitate outreach and awareness-raising. In this regards we welcome and support Malta’s offer to host such a regional workshop in 2018, for this second phase of the process.

The EU and its Member States commend the Group of Experts for the preparation of the draft Outline of the Second World Ocean Assessment as a single comprehensive assessment in compliance with the recommendations adopted by the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole, endorsed by the General Assembly, and establishing the applicability of the elements of the Drivers-Pressures-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) model that are specified in particular in the draft Outline. We welcome the Timetable and Implementation Plan, prepared in addition by the Group of Experts.     

The EU looks to promote a coordinated approach to ensure cooperation and complementarity in various processes, for example the achievement of the Good Environmental Status under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the Ecosystem Approach of the Regional Seas Conventions and other standardized regional approaches which seem important to reflect, as useful regional contributions into the work on preparing second edition of World Ocean Assessment, thus contributing also from the regional level to the follow-up of ocean-related Agenda 2030. The work underway across Europe’s regional seas and via the EU MSFD can in fact offer valuable input to the UN Regular Process. The EU has a unique setting with the MSFD as a legal instrument for EU Member States and its regional delivery processes, particularly through the regional sea conventions which bring all countries in the region together for joint assessments and actions.

The planned first EU State of the Marine Environment Report, to be presented by the European Environmental Agency in 2019, could represent the EU’s input to the forthcoming assessment. We reiterate our view that the World Ocean Assessment gains a maximum of acceptance, applicability and effectivity when also the existing and ongoing regional assessments are taken into account, e.g., through a nested approach.

Madame Co-Chair,

The EU and its Member States express their concern that the World Ocean is under serious threat. It faces pressures beyond the limits of its carrying capacity that require an immediate global response.

The EU hosted the Fourth High-level Conference: “Our Ocean, An Ocean for Life” held in October 2017 in Malta and the EU Ocean Governance Initiative with its Agenda clearly expresses the EU and its Member States engagement to improve international oceans governance for the well-being of the humankind in the capacity as climate regulators, as a source for global food security, human health and as an engine for economic growth. Only an effective cross-sectoral ocean governance can tackle the hurdles ahead of us.

Thank you for your attention!

[1] Lisbon, Portugal, 14-15 September 2017; Auckland, New Zealand, 18 – 19 October 2017; Camboriú, Brazil, 14 – 15 November 2017; Bangkok, Thailand, 29 – 30 November 2017; Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania, 14 – 15 December 2017

  • Ref: EUUN18-017EN
  • EU source: EU Presidency
  • UN forum: Other
  • Date: 01/03/2018

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