11 January 2012: WOC participation in the U.N. Secretary General’s five-person ocean expert group creates an exceptional opportunity for the ocean business community to help shape international efforts to address ocean sustainability.

The oceans have been declared as one of eight thematic priorities for “Rio + 20” – the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development taking place in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The U.N. Secretary General’s ocean expert group will develop an Oceans Compact for consideration as U.N. input to the conference. In addition to private sector involvement via the WOC Executive Director, the four other experts in the group represent government, academic and non-government organizations.

Achim Steiner, U.N. Under-Secretary General (PHOTO) and Executive Director of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “The marine environment is under pressure as a result of issues such as over-fishing, insensitive development, pollution and climate change. Engaging the private sector will be an essential element towards ensuring the future health of the oceans and seas. The World Ocean Council (WOC) efforts to catalyze an unprecedented cross-sectoral industry alliance for leadership on ocean sustainability represents an important opportunity to realize this as the world prepares for Rio + 20 in June 2012. Thus I welcome the ocean business community’s involvement in this high level UN expert group as a result of the participation of the WOC.”

The objective of the Oceans Compact is to build a framework to advance political and pragmatic policies and actions to address the most pressing issues regarding sustainable management of oceans. The compact is to highlight the major challenges facing oceans – such as overfishing, pollution, and the management of ocean ecosystems beyond national jurisdictions – and propose actions to redress these challenges.

Rio + 20 is the major decadal global Conference on Sustainable Development, with significant involvement from governments, UN agencies, the environment community and the business community. The 2012 event follows on from the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro (1992) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg (2002).

Ocean industries have an significant opportunity to advance their leadership and collaboration in Corporate Ocean Responsibility by working with and through the WOC to provide input to the Oceans Compact and Rio + 20.

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Contact: Paul Holthus +1 (808) 277-9008 paul.holthus@oceancouncil.org