At “Rio+20” – the decadal UN Conference on Sustainable Development being held in Rio de Janeiro from 15-22 June – the WOC is working to provide the eyes, ears and voice for the responsible ocean business community.

As many as 20,000 people are expected to participate in both official and informal events during Rio+20, including over 100 heads of state and many other government representatives, as well as inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations – and business leaders

The oceans are a major focus of the summit and governments are negotiating commitments that include proposals to amend the Law of the Sea to address marine biodiversity in the high seas, develop marine protected areas, reduce marine pollution/debris, achieve sustainable fisheries, and undertake regular assessments of ocean health. The private sector‘s role in sustainable development is also a significant theme of Rio+20.

As the only international, cross-sectoral industry leadership alliance on ocean sustainability, the WOC is ensuring both that the business community is well represented in the ocean deliberations and that ocean issues are brought forward in the business discussions.

The WOC’s efforts at Rio+20 include as:

  • Panelist, alongside the IMO Secretary-General, at the “Sustainable Maritime Development” panel organized by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
  • Speaker at “The Oceans Day at Rio+20” organized by the Global Forum, along with heads of international organizations and others.
  • Participant in the “Corporate Sustainability Forum” organized by the UN Global Compact.
  • Participant in the “Business and Sustainable Development Day” organized by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
  • Speaker at the panel on “Public/Private Support for Ocean Science” organized by the UNESCO Inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission and others.
  • Participant in the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans event.

The key messages WOC is delivering at Rio+20 include:

  • Engaging the diverse ocean business community is essential to sustainable development of the ocean.
  • Many ocean companies are working to improve their sustainability and reduce marine environmental impacts.
  • Ocean ecosystems are interconnected, and many of the critical issues affecting ocean health are cross-cutting and cumulative.
  • The best efforts by a single company, or an entire industry sector, are not enough to secure the future health and productivity of the ocean.
  • Sustaining ocean health and productivity requires responsible use and stewardship by the wide range of ocean industries.
  • Ocean industries will benefit from collaboration among the business sectors, and with other stakeholders, to develop the synergies and economies of scale needed to address the challenges of ocean sustainable development

In the run-up to Rio+20, the WOC was invited to participate in the U.N. Secretary General’s five-person ocean expert group, as the only representative of the private sector. In addition, the only effort to pull together ocean business community input to the conference was organized by the WOC, the Australian Association for Maritime Affairs and the Australian Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. The “Oceans, Industry and Rio +20 Workshop” (Canberra, 4 April) successfully brought together the diverse ocean business community to provide feedback to the Australian Government delegation and the WOC on the proposed Rio+20 oceans agenda. To view the “Oceans, Industry and Rio +20 Workshop” report, click here.


Contact: Paul Holthus +1 (808) 277-9008