Oceans Day at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancún will draw high-level attention to the critical need to protect the central role of the oceans as the Earth’s life support system. The Dec. 4 event is co-organized by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, which is housed at the University of Delaware.
“Crucial interlinkages between oceans and climate need to be addressed,” said Biliana Cicin-Sain, co-chair and head of secretariat of the Global Forum. “Oceans and coasts have, thus far, been largely absent from the UNFCCC discussions.”
Climate change is threatening the oceans’ ability to provide life-sustaining services such as generating oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, and regulating climate and temperature, Cicin-Sain explained. If bold measures are not taken to protect the oceans, more than 50 percent of the human population that lives in 183 coastal countries, including 44 small island nations, will suffer disproportionate impacts from ocean warming, sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification (the changing of the ocean’s pH).
Working to address these issues, Oceans Day will include many prominent speakers — including representatives from the governments of the Seychelles, Papua New Guinea, and the Maldives — as well as working group sessions to advance strategic thinking on aspects of a comprehensive agenda on oceans and climate.
Special sessions also will be devoted to adaptation needs and related financing. Participants at Oceans Day 2009, held at the Copenhagen UNFCCC, agreed upon the need to support adaptation and funding for coastal and island communities that are at the frontline of climate change.
Organizers of Oceans Day 2010 say the following priority actions at the event would serve to advance the global oceans agenda ahead of future climate change and oceans talks: catalyze coordination and consensus-building within the oceans community to mobilize broad-based and unified support for the oceans agenda; call for recognition in the UNFCCC negotiating text of the important role played by oceans in climate; and work toward the creation of an integrated oceans and coasts program within and beyond the UNFCCC by 2013 emphasizing mitigation, adaptation, capacity development, and public education.
For the event’s full list of sponsors and program information, visit http://www.oceansday.org.