Taking action for the ocean and climate: IOC-UNESCO and the Ocean & Climate Platform unveil new recommendations in the wake of COP21

With only two weeks left before COP21 (30 November-11 December 2015), UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) called the attention of State Parties to the UNFCCC and stakeholders to the importance of integrating the ocean, notably absent from previous climate negotiations, into the future climate regime during a press conference of the Ocean & Climate Platform on 12 November 2015 in Paris.

The appeal made by the Platform laid out the following nine main recommendations:

  • Provide decision-makers with a state of science on suitable concerns and measures regarding oceans and climate change, including via an IPCC Special Report on the ocean.
  • Consider the importance of healthy and functional ecosystems to face climate change, by catalyzing the implementation of a consistent and resilient network of marine protected areas.
  • Acknowledge the role of marine and coastal ecosystems as natural carbon wells (blue carbon).
  • Develop Marine Renewable Energy (wind-power, hydro-power, tidal-power and wave-power) while preserving marine biodiversity.
  • Guide energy transition of maritime transport and develop innovative technological solutions for safer and more environmentally-friendly ships.
  • Prioritize support for adaptation measures in the most vulnerable regions, particularly the coastal zones of developing countries, territories and Small Island States.
  • Strengthen transfer of technology towards the most vulnerable coastal and oceanic states and regions. International cooperation must include marine ecosystems adaptation and protection projects.
  • Allocate explicitly a part of the Green Climate Fund to marine and coastal projects (protection of mangrove, wetlands and vulnerable areas with an extremely high CO2 storage capacity).
  • Improve coordination of UNFCCC with existing ocean-related agreements, including the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”.

“The ocean is unlike any other resource, and there is no greater challenge than its protection because it represents the future of the planet. Our role is to build understanding and to inform audiences – on all levels, political and civil society – about the issues at stake,” said Julian Barbière, Head of the Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section at IOC, in the opening statement of the press conference.

These recommendations follow the recently endorsed UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which Goal 14 commits Member States to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

French Minister of Ecology Ségolène Royal assisted to the press conference as well and sent a clear message of support to the Ocean & Climate Platform for COP21: “The ocean represents a solution for the climate and an extraordinary resource for energy transition. We must protect it and develop activities responsibly and sustainably. I count on you to shed light on all these upcoming debates.”

Were also present Romain Troublé, Secretary General of Tara Expeditions, Françoise Gaill, Scientific Coordinator of the Ocean & Climate Platform and Research Director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Raphaël Cuvelier, Project Coordinator at the Prince Albert II Foundation, Julien Rochette of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, and Catherine Chabaud, Member of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council and President of Innovation Bleues.

These institutions are all members of the Ocean & Climate Platform, of which IOC is a cofounder. Launched at the occasion of World Oceans Day 2014 at UNESCO Headquarters, it aims to bring the ocean to the forefront of climate discussions by promoting its link with the climate, and is set to lead and participate in various ocean-related events throughout COP21 and after.

The press conference was followed by the inauguration of Tara’s “Ocean and Climate” Pavilion, with the presence of UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and IOC Executive Secretary Vladimir Ryabinin.

The 600-square-meter space will present to the public the essential role of the ocean in climate regulation through exhibitions, scientific conferences, and film screenings, and will welcome 100 school classes for workshops. Alongside and within the Ocean & Climate Platform, Tara Expeditions will seek to raise awareness about the need to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate at COP21.

“This space will constitute a meeting place to discuss, to understand and to engage for the protection of the ocean, and UNESCO and all our partners will be at your side throughout the Conference to put the ocean at the heart of negotiations, at the heart of our ambition for the planet,” declared Irina Bokova. She also emphasized UNESCO and Tara’s “beautiful history” since the signature of a cooperation agreement in June 2013.

Tara will be docked in the heart of Paris at the Pont Alexandre III near the Grand Palais until 18 December 2015.