Global mobilization is key to maintain political momentum around ocean, says scientific community at COP21

As the end of COP21 approaches, the time has come for the ocean community and all stakeholder groups that have presented their expertise and insights at diverse events to start drawing the conclusions of their participation. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO was provided with this opportunity, along with partners, on 9 December 2015.

In the form of a reception, the event hosted by IOC, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Global Ocean Forum and the Ocean and Climate Platform, focused on some of the efforts they have undertaken during COP21 to highlight the link and importance between ocean and climate change issues.

But beyond that, this event, and all that preceded it, ultimately aimed to catalyze ocean solutions as part of the global portfolio of climate actions. Much emphasis was given to the need to move forward on a strategic agenda on the ocean and climate that seeks to foster partnerships among all stakeholder groups, and that places due importance on the need of a strong knowledge-base for policy-making.

Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC Executive Secretary; Inger Andersen, Director-General of the IUCN; Biliana Cicin-Sain, President of the Global Ocean Forum; and Françoise Gaill, Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Ocean and Climate Platform, spoke out on the need to keep the mobilization going. Sylvia Earle, marine biologist and explorer, was also present.

“We now have a great community supporting the cause of the ocean, from the Global Ocean Forum created in 2001 to the Ocean and Climate Platform launched at UNESCO Headquarters in 2014, which is getting more and more knowledgeable and heard. Now we need to combine the efforts of all communities that work on ocean sciences and mobilize countries for maximum political momentum and visibility. As Sylvia Earle said, the ocean cannot remain the blue elephant in the room,” declared Vladimir Ryabinin.

Biliana Cicin-Sain applauded the mention of the ocean in the preamble of the draft Paris Agreement: “The texts notes the ‘needs and integrity of terrestrial ecosystems, oceans and Mother Earth’. Our mobilization has really worked. But we have to maintain this broad alliance into the future in a very careful and concerted way, and keep nurturing the political will that emerged from the Oceans Day at COP21 on 4 December. This is why we are already planning Oceans Day at COP22 in Marrakech.”

Inger Andersen encouraged the audience to “look at this COP21 as the departure of new engagements – no blue, no green. We have created partnerships and linked up people. Now that the ocean is in the text, let’s make sure this word doesn’t get lost.”

IOC’s review of its participation at COP21 will culminate with the Ocean and Climate Moment organized with the Ocean and Climate Platform on 10 December 2015 at the UNESCO Pavilion.