On 8 June, 2015, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met with the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, on the occasion of World Oceans Day.
Both Director-General Bokova and Commissioner Vella agreed that action was needed now, noting that the oceans present us both with economic opportunities and environmental challenges that are intrinsically linked. The post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal on Oceans will provide UNESCO and the European Union the opportunity to enhance their cooperation with a view to increasing the broader understanding of the oceans through ocean observations underpinning ocean and climate science. In this context, the Director-General Bokova and Commissioner Vella emphasized the need for adequate science-based monitoring and assessment programmes to address the critical issue of marine pollution.
Commissioner Vella stated that in Europe already a lot is being undertaken, notably in the field of ocean research, underwater heritage, ocean data collection and ocean governance. Acknowledging that future directions for ocean management must be informed by the best science and also will entail forging partnerships, Commissioner Vella expressed his commitment to work more closely with UNESCO.
Highlighting the unique position of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, Director-General Irina Bokova welcomed this commitment to enhanced cooperation between the European Union and UNESCO on issues such as climate change, ocean observations, ocean data, including the establishment of internationally agreed standards.
In ending, the European Commissioner and UNESCO Director-General agreed to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations in addressing the needs of Small Islands Developing States.