WMO at Rio+20 world map


WMO side events at RIO+20


Knowing our Ocean, Protecting our Marine Treasures, Empowering Ocean Citizens

20 Jun 2012 - 20 Jun 2012
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

In partnership with: World Meteorological Organisation, Tara Oceans, World Heritage, Sandwatch Foundation, Veolia

Themes to be addressed

A number of initiatives that support the Rio+20 ocean targets leading to the sustainable use of the ocean will be presented and discussed. The side event will be structured around three inter-connected themes:

Knowing our Ocean

How can science and technology be at the service of coastal nations to manage ocean and coastal resources sustainably, protect their coastal populations, and maintain ecosystem services? Much of the ocean remains unexplored and many ocean characteristics are still unknown, although knowledge is the first step toward sustainable use of the ocean. We cannot protect and preserve what we do not know. This theme will stress the importance of science and observation for the sustainable management of the ocean. It will focus on the importance of observing systems, data collection and monitoring. It will also consider how science and early warning systems can help coastal communities to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change and coastal hazards. Ocean and freshwater linkages will be examined, particularly in developing strategies to cope with natural disasters at the sea/land interface.

Protecting our Marine Treasures

How can we better preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the ocean and coasts and the essential services they provide to society? Appropriate tools and mechanisms are needed to protect and conserve marine and coastal resources for future generations, whether natural, cultural or aesthetic. This theme will focus on the importance of marine protected areas (MPAs) and ongoing efforts to identify and protect some of the richest marine environments, consolidate coastal ecosystems, and develop new relationships between people and the ocean so that we can continue to appreciate the beauty and the bounty of our seas. Forty-five marine areas are currently inscribed on the World Heritage List for their exceptional natural features. Together, they cover 1/3 of the total surface of all MPAs on the planet and they include five of the world's largest MPA's.

Empowering Ocean Citizens

How do we empower ocean citizens and society? Effective ocean stewardship requires the participation of all members of society in defining a common ocean future and in promoting behavioural change towards the ocean. The ocean is our common heritage and it is important to not only raise awareness on those issues but also to empower those who can act to protect the ocean. Focusing on training, decision-making skills, team building, fund-raising and cooperation is essential. Sustainable use cannot be attained without the support of empowered coastal communities. This final segment will provide an opportunity to deepen existing cooperation on ocean awareness, education and advocacy.


This event will demonstrate the need for inter-related actions to move towards the sustainable use of our undivided ocean's resources. Two speakers will provide an overview of the main issues relating to each theme and highlight concrete and innovative actions in support of the theme. The first speaker will set the global picture, and the following speaker will provide a local perspective. A number of pre-identified participants will intervene from the audience to highlight and raise key issues under a given theme. 

Panel Speakers: 

  • Irina Bokova 
    Director-General of UNESCO 
  • The Honorable Julia Gillard MP 
    Prime Minister of Australia (To be confirmed)
  • High Level representative of the Government of Denmark  (To be confirmed )
  • Patricia Miloslavich 
    Marine Biologist (Census of Marine Life) 
  • Michel Jarraud 
    Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) 
  • Clayton Lino 
    Mata Atlantica Coastal and Marine Biosphere Reserve, Brazil 
  • Representative of World Heritage Marine Sites network 
  • Etienne Bourgois 
    President of Tara Expeditions 
  • Gillian Cambers 
    Co-director of Sandwatch Foundation 
  • Veolia Environnement Representative ( To be confirmed )


  • Wendy Watson Wright, 
    Executive Secretary and Assistant Director General
    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO 

Contact Details: 

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, Paris, France 
Wendy Watson-Wright (w.watson-wright@unesco.org) - Executive Secretary IOC 
Julian Barbière (j.barbiere@unesco.org) 
Tel: +33 145683983 






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