Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment

 

Welcome to the website of the United Nations Environment Programme's contribution to the preparatory process for the establishment of a Regular Process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment including socio-economic aspects (UNGA 60/30 Regular Process).

At its 21st Session held in Nairobi in February 2001, UNEP Governing Council took a decision for UNEP to explore the feasibility of establishing a regular process for assessment of the state of the marine environment. This decision is based on a discussion paper presented by the Government of Iceland. UNEP's Division of Early Warning and Assessment has been assigned the responsibility of implementing this decision in collaboration with the Division of Environmental Conventions, and other appropriate UNEP divisions. (See Decision 21/13)
The first informal consultative meeting on the "Feasibility Study for Establishing a Regular Process for the Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment" was held at Reykjavik, Iceland, from 12-14 September 2001.  (See outcome from the meeting). The second meeting - a technical workshop - on the "Feasibility Study for Establishing a Regular Process for the Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment" was held in Bremen, Germany, from 18-20 March 2002. (See outcome from the meeting).
To increase awareness of the regular process as recommended during the Bremen workshop, the outcome of the consultations was presented at the following events:

  1. The United Nations Informal Consultative Process (ICP) on Oceans; 8 to 15 April 2002 in New York, USA;
  2. The Fourth WSSD PREPCOM; 27 May to 7 June 2002 in Bali, Indonesia, governments discussed the feasibility of establishing under United Nations a regular process for the assessment of the state of the marine environment; and
  3. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD); 28 August to 4 September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), governments called for the "establishment by 2004 and under United Nations of a regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of marine environment, including socio-economic aspects, both current and foreseeable, building on existing regional assessments."
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at its 57th Session - on Oceans and the Law of the Sea - adopted the resolution A/57/L.48/Rev.1- 12 December 2002. In paragraph 45, decision has been made to establish "a regular process under the United Nations for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment ... to prepare proposals on modalities for a regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, drawing, inter alia, upon the work of UNEP pursuant to decision GC 21/13...

As part of UNEP's effort to implement the Decision, UNEP-WCMC completed a Survey of Global and Regional Marine Environmental Assessments and Related Scientific Activities in January 2003. Report is currently being updated and a draft was presented at the first Ad Hoc Steering Group meeting of the Regular Process for Global reporting and assessment of the marine environment held in New York 7th-9th June 2006. See first report.
During the 22nd Session of the UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum on 3-7 February 2003, the Executive Director reported on the progress of implementing GC Decision 21/13 to the Governing Council. The decision was then amended and adopted as GC Decision 22/1 II. UNEP implemented the GC Decision 22/1 II through events during 2003/2004, while taking into consideration other relevant decisions that were also adopted during this 22nd Session (e.g. GC Decision 22/2 III, Regional Seas Programme; GC Decision 22/2 V, Marine Safety and Protection of the Marine Environment from Accidental Pollution)
In implementing the GC Decision 22/1/II, an informal meeting was organized on 26-27th May 2003 at the UNEP/GPA Office in The Hague, The Netherlands. The objective of the meeting was to seek views from experts in terms of scope, methodology, structure, concept issues and further process of the global marine assessment particularly the environment component as UNEP's contribution to the implementation of the UN-wide global process for reporting on the state of the marine assessment. Outcomes of the meeting were welcome at the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea [UNICPOLOS] held in New York, 2-6 June 2003, and was used to assist in the planning of the scientific expert meeting which was organized at the end of 2003 at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi.

Apart from the decision 22/1 II, in response to UN General Assembly resolution 57/141, the UNEP Governing Council has requested the Executive Director to prepare the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report series in decision 22/1 Ib Early warning and assessment process of UNEP, and to facilitate consultations on how to address gaps and needs in the current assessment structures in decision 22/1 Ia Strengthening the scientific base of the UNEP. DEWA, therefore, organized a planning meeting in Nairobi, 19-21 November 2003, on how to address these issues in the area of the marine environment. The objective of the meeting was to identify users’ needs and determine how existing programmes can contribute to the assessment of the marine environment.
The meeting explored scope and methodology of a possible UNEP module for a regular assessment of the marine environment at global and regional levels. The meeting mobilized users (e.g. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Global Programme of Action on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Sources of Pollution (GPA), Regional Seas Programme); scientists participating in the existing assessments (e.g. GEO, Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA), Millennium Ecosystems Assessment (MA), Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP); and potential partners (e.g. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission  of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC of UNESCO), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Large Marine Ecosystems projects (LME)). See the outcome of the meeting.

At its 59th session, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 59/24, on Oceans and the Law of the sea. This requested the Secretary-General to convene the second International Workshop from 13th-15th June 2005, to continue considering issues relating to the establishment of the process, including its scope and a task force to initiate the start-up phase to the establishment of the Regular Process. See the outcome of meeting.

The 60th session the UN General assembly endorsed the conclusions of the second international meeting and decided to launch the start-up phase the assessment of assessments to be completed within two years, as a preparatory stage towards the establishment of the regular process.  In addition UNGA Resolution 60/30 in paragraph 91 decided to establish an organizational arrangement that includes an Ad Hoc Steering Group to oversee the execution of the assessment of assessment, two United Nations agencies UNEP and IOC of UNESCO to co-lead the process and a group of experts to conduct the Assessments of Assessments. The composition of the Ad Hoc Steering group and its functions including the activities of the two lead agencies are spelt out in Para 92 to 95 of the UNGA Resolution 60/30.
The aim of this assessment of the assessments is to assemble information on and to make a constructive appraisal of marine including coastal assessments and establish how these assessments have been communicated to policy makers.

UNEP and IOC of UNESCO have taken the lead in preparing the background for the initial phase of the assessment of assessments.  Nominations from Member States and regional groups have been initiated through the President of UNGA. See List of nominations. The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Steering Group was held from 7-9 June 2006 at the Head quarters of the United Nations in New York back to back with the seventh meeting of UNICPOLOS from 12-16 June 2006. The outcome of the first meeting was clear: the Ad Hoc Steering Group adopted targeted decisions on substantive agenda items, such as the scope, key questions, process, budget, implementation plan and time-schedule for the “assessment of assessments”.  See the outcome of meeting.

During the 61st session, UNGA adopted resolution 61/222, by which it renewed the commitment of Member States to support the implementation of the start-up phase urging the AHSG to ensure that the “assessment of assessments” is completed within two years.  The resolution also invited Member States, the Global Environment Facility and other interested parties to contribute financially to the “assessment of assessments”, taking into account the work plan and budget approved by the Ad Hoc Steering Group, in order to complete the “assessment of assessments”.

Following the outcome of the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Steering Group UNEP and IOC of UNESCO decided to move ahead and selected a group of 20 high level independent ocean experts, representing various regions with a wide background of expertise in Environmental Assessments, Oceanography, Marine Ecology /Biology/Geology, Fisheries, Law/ Policy and Social sciences. See list of Group of Experts.The first meeting of the Group of Experts was held from 28 to 30 March 2007 in Paris.  The meeting came out with an overall working approach of the Assessment of Assessments, an annotated outline, a work plan and timeline as well as a budget. See outcome of meeting.

The second meeting of the Ad Hoc Steering Group was held on 22 June 2007 at the Head quarters of the United Nations in New York back to back with the eight meeting of UNICPOLOS. See outcome of meeting.

 

Further Resources:
Meetings
Reports

 

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