We rely on the ocean to meet our growing demand for foodstuffs, energy, and transport. At the same time, marine ecosystems are facing serious challenges from over-exploitation, pollution, climate change, and loss of biodiversity. In a new report prepared with the support of IASS researchers, the High Level Panel for the Sustainable Ocean Economy, an international initiative of heads of state and government, recommends concrete steps to strike a balance between the use and protection of the oceans.
Strengthening the European Union’s role in international ocean governance - this is the aim of the EU International Ocean Governance Forum (IOG Forum) developed by the European Commission and the European External Action Service with the support of the IASS and other project partners. In late April 2020, the IOG Forum was launched online with a series of online-seminars attended by 450 experts. The series addressed a range of issues, including the protection and sustainable use of the oceans, how to deal with the oceans in the context of climate change and the role of research and science for a sustainable future for the oceans.
The next decade will be crucial for the future of our oceans. What role can marine regions play in efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? Which approaches have proven successful and what can be done to enhance their coordination? Experts developed solutions to these questions and more at the Marine Regions Forum held in Berlin, Germany last autumn. On 4–5 February, IASS project lead Sebastian Unger will present the most important recommendations at a preparatory meeting for the United Nations’ 2020 Ocean Conference.
Interest in the extraction of mineral resources from the deep seabed has grown in recent years. In order to protect the marine environment, the existing legal framework must be strengthened through the addition of environmental objectives and regulations to minimize harmful impacts. A team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam recommends the establishment of ecological safeguards for deep-seabed mining in a new report commissioned by the German Environment Agency (UBA).
IASS marine researcher Carole Durussel is among 80 female scientists from around the world selected to participate in the Homeward Bound leadership initiative. The year-long programme, which includes a series of online training seminars and a three-week expedition to Antarctica, will help the participating researchers develop networks to address environmental problems.
The ocean hosts an inconceivable wealth of marine life and diverse habitats, most of which remains unknown. International plans to mine minerals from the deep seafloor threaten this largely unexplored biodiversity hotspot. States are currently seeking to develop a legal framework for deep seabed mining. In cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, an international team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has published a new study warning against a rush to exploit deep seafloor resources and calling for coordinated efforts to develop alternative approaches.
Climate change is having particularly devastating impacts on the world’s oceans: they are becoming warmer and more acidic, with profound consequences for their complex ecosystem. The special report on “The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate”, due to be presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 25 September, evaluates current scientific research on changes to the oceans. The Marine Regions Forum will convene in Berlin shortly afterwards with the aim of delivering clear recommendations, actionable results, and more support for regional partnerships.
A comprehensive High Seas Treaty and extensive marine protected areas are urgently needed in the next decade to preserve life-supporting ocean function. These are just two of eight measures recommended in a study, to which Torsten Thiele from the Ocean Governance team at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) contributed.
The next round of negotiations on a new legally binding instrument for biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) will take place from 19 to 30 August 2019. How can the agreement be formulated to meet the challenges of a constantly changing environment? A new study makes concrete proposals for an agreement that includes resilience principles.
The United Nations wish to adopt a new global agreement for the protection of the high seas in the coming year. The negotiations among the UN member states offer an opportunity to strengthen marine conservation and extend protections to ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction. IASS researchers have developed a number of recommendations to strengthen relevant legal frameworks and bolster institutional cooperation in West Africa and South America.
Our human livelihoods depend on the oceans, and the conservation of this vital resource is one of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which together form the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to achieve SDG 14, the sustainable use and development of the world’s oceans, a plethora of voluntary commitments have been made in recent years. IASS researchers Barbara Neumann and Sebastian Unger have studied these voluntary commitments. Their findings and recommendations for improving the existing system have now been published in the prestigious journal Science.
Our oceans are increasingly suffering under the pressure of overfishing, pollution, climate change, and acidification. Yet in spite of this, the various institutions responsible for conserving them still tend to operate in isolation from each other. That situation is about to change: On 8 and 9 October, about 40 international experts gathered at the IASS to further refine the concept for a new informal dialogue forum at the interface of science, policy and society.
Negotiations on a new international agreement to protect biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction – and support the UN sustainable development goals in the process – got under way in September. Researchers from the IASS were present at the negotiations and have now published a Policy Brief with recommendations for the proposed agreement.
How could the exploitation of the resources of the deep seabed conceivably benefit humanity? What risks does such exploitation pose to the marine environment? And how can we ensure that governance in this area is fair – for all of humankind? The latest IASS Policy Brief examines what the International Seabed Authority can do to reconcile the use of the ‘common heritage of mankind’ with the global sustainable development goals formulated in the 2030 Agenda.
In September, UN member states will begin negotiating a treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity on the high seas. But such challenges as ocean conservation cannot be resolved at the global level alone. A new study focusing on the Southeast Pacific shows what role regional organisations can play.
Ocean conservation ranked high on the international political agenda in 2017. But did stakeholders succeed in turning the tide towards greater sustainability? Representatives from science, policymaking and civil society met at the IASS on 13-14 December to discuss this.
Five years have passed since the so-called ‘Paris Agreement’ was concluded at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) following years of deliberation between the member States. For the ocean, the Paris Agreement represents a turning point: previously issues relating to the ocean were side-lined in COP negotiations.
The ocean plays a fundamental role in regulating global temperatures. Not only does the ocean absorb 93 percent of the heat trapped by rising anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2), but it also absorbs approximately 25 to 30 percent of anthropogenic CO2 emissions that would otherwise remain in the atmosphere and increase global warming.
A healthy ocean is critical to the survival of every life on earth. However, given that the marine environment, including its currents and species that inhabit its waters, are transboundary, national action alone cannot ensure its conservation. Each one of us must resolve the pressing issues facing the ocean, from marine pollution and overfishing to securing vulnerable coastal communities.
Negotiations on a conservation agreement for the high seas are currently under way at the United Nations in New York. This agreement has to be ambitious if it is to protect our oceans from profiteers. After more than a decade of heated debate, the United Nations have begun to negotiate a new agreement on the...