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Nurturing the democratic debate.  
07-11-2003 1:00 pm Life on Earth is so closely linked to the oceans that the two are almost indissociable. Covering 72% of the surface of the planet, the oceans play an essential role in controlling climate, while acting as a buffer against global warming. And the wealth of ocean resources, from fish to mineral and fossil energy deposits, is at its greatest on or near the coasts. Yet with increasing population pressure, the state of these resources is seriously threatened. Some 3 billion people, or 50% of global population, now lives on or near the coast, and, by the year 2020, this proportion is expected to rise to 75%.

It is against this backdrop that UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is hosting a Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, from November 12 to 14. With sponsors including UNESCO-IOC, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the three-day meeting will welcome a broad spectrum of participants, from the French Minister of the Environment, Roselyne Bachelot, and UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer, to world-renowned ocean scientist and activist, Sylvia Earle.

A primary aim of the conference is to review commitments on oceans, coasts and islands made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg (South Africa) in August 2002. These commitments had specific targets and timetables for action. But what progress has been made? Also on the table will be a proposal to establish a Global Oceans Fund, to promote sustainable development of oceans, coasts and islands, along the lines of the existing Global Environment Facility. At present there is no multi-stakeholder process for sustainable development of the oceans.

The conference will be held in Paris, at UNESCO Headquarters (Room II). It will open on Wednesday, November 12, at 8.30 a.m.

For details see http://www.globaloceans.org/globalconference/conference.html

Source Media advisory No 2003 - 92


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