Twenty-third Global Meeting of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans
03 November 2023
- Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Actions held in Barbados from 20th to 23rd of November 2023
- Collaboration to increase the visibility and strategic involvement of RSCAPs in addressing the degradation of the oceans and seas at regional levels
- Implementation overview of the region-specific activities
- Guidance on Regional Seas Strategic Directions 2022-2025 implementation
Nairobi, Kenya, 31 October 2023 – The Twenty-third Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Actions is taking place in Barbados between 20-23 November 2023 bringing together 18 Regional Seas Conventions in a global meeting held annually focusing on collaboration to increase the visibility and strategic involvement of RSCAPs in key processes at global and regional levels.
The Twenty-third Global Meeting of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans will take place in Barbados from 20th to 23rd of November 2023 on the format of a 4-day meeting with a last day dedicated on an excursion. This meeting will be hosted by the Government of Barbados in collaboration with the Cartagena Convention Secretariat of UN Environment Programme.
Three interconnected crises ‒ climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution ‒ are putting global economic and social well-being at risk.
A rapidly deteriorating environment threatens not only our social and economic well-being but also the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In the past 50 years the global human population has doubled, the extraction of materials has tripled, primary energy production has more than tripled, the economy has grown nearly fivefold and global trade has grown tenfold.
The accumulating pollution from chemicals and waste and the changing climate, biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, desertification, land degradation and drought are closely related and are reinforcing each other. They can individually or in combination lead to degradation of ecosystems and their ability to provide services that are crucial for the well-being of humans and nature. Global chemical production capacity almost doubled between 2000 and 2017.
The trajectory of global environmental change is out of line with international goals and objectives. The global community is failing to meet internationally agreed environmental goals. The Earth’s mean surface temperature has already warmed by about 1°C above pre-industrial levels. At the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, warming is likely to reach 1.5°C in the early 2030s.
Addressing environmental degradation requires an integrated focus on climate, biodiversity, chemicals and waste, natural resources and pollution.
Since its creation in 1974, the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans (RSCAPs) Programme has evolved to consist of eighteen unique instruments for enhancing marine environmental cooperation tailored to regional specificities, that are strategically placed to respond to the urgent call for securing planetary health. The RSCAPs aim to strengthen the capacity within the region to protect and conserve the marine environment, through education, training, communication, and institution-building.
Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans (RSCAPs) are in a unique position to support States to achieve ocean-related elements of governance frameworks or guide on recent global environment-related policies – no-one else is in a position to provide coordination and cooperation at the regional scale. In particular, the UNEP Regional Seas Programme has governance mechanisms in place, regional convening power, extensive expert networks, and an established track record of environmental protection.
The Regional Seas Strategic Directions 2022-2025 will contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development goals, in particular Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. More specifically, it will contribute to and strengthen the delivery of UNEP’s Medium-Term Strategy (MTS) 2022-2025 and Programme of Work 2022-2023, particularly regarding activities that address ocean-related components of the identified priority areas of climate action, nature action, chemical and pollution action, science-policy, environmental governance, finance and economic transformations and digital transformations.
Recent several developments on global policy and governance frameworks tackle the environmental degradation, among which:
- On 19 June 2023, the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (General Assembly resolution 72/249) adopted, the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (A/CONF.232/2023/4);
The BBNJ Treaty's objective is to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, for the present and in the long term, through effective implementation of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea; it includes rules for managing ocean life, conducting environmental impact assessments, and establishing marine protected areas in the high seas.
For now, only five Regional Seas Conventions currently include Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) under their geographical coverages: OSPAR Convention, Noumea Convention, CCAMLR Convention, Barcelona Convention, and Lima Convention.
Nairobi and Abidjan Conventions have also recently started studying the issues related to biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
- To cope with the issue of marine litter and microplastics, as we all know, a fraction of all the plastics produced and used are leaked into the world’ oceans as large plastic objects or microplastics, the UNEA Resolution (5/14) has requested the UNEP Executive Director to convene an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) in order to develop "an instrument," which will be based on a comprehensive approach, addressing the full life cycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal. The global production of plastics having increased from 1.5 million tons in the 1950s against 300 million tons nowadays, with an average of 4% per year and will continue growing.
The aim of resolution (5/14) being to complete negotiations by the end of 2024 to create a global, legally binding plastics treaty.
- The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted during COP 15 on 19 December 2022 (decision 15/4), aims to catalyze, enable and galvanize urgent and transformative action by Governments, and subnational and local authorities, with the involvement of all of society, to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. The regional seas programmes play a crucial role in its implementation as the GBF is expected to have a major impact in countries around the world as they endeavor to meet their targets, through the development of new plans and regulations. For example, protected areas will be expanded and subsidies for ecologically destructive activities such as fishing will have to be redirected.
RSCAPs have already committed themselves to efforts that resonate with the GBF, but to date attention given to the GBF varies. Some RSCAPs have been proactive, whilst others have yet to consider the implications of the GBF.
Obligations to implement the GBF present an opportunity to strengthen regional partnerships, providing a bridge between national and global scales.
The Medium-Term Strategy articulates UNEP’s role in delivering the promises of the 2030 Agenda, with the implementation of the Sustainable development goals, ensuring that science remains at the center of decision-making processes, and that environmental rule of law continues to underpin global environmental governance. The strategy outlines how UNEP will strengthen the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda during the period 2022‒2025, supporting countries to deliver on their environmental commitments under international agreements.
The Regional Seas Strategic Directions aim in particular at providing an initial 3-year framework to track regional seas programmes achievements and the national and inter-regional levels, building a preliminary baseline towards a more robust and impact-oriented set of indicators, and providing comparative reporting to assist regional seas programmes reporting as a whole, but allowing for individual RSCAP achievements to be highlighted. Additionally, the RSSD intend to collect information to promote improved advocacy to raise the profile of the RSP within UNEP and UNEA, particularly as an implementing framework for ocean-related goals.
Global meetings of the Regional Seas have been held annually, concentrating on collaboration to increase the visibility and strategic involvement of RSCAPs in key processes at global and regional levels.
This year, from 20th to 23rd of November 2023, a twenty-third Global Meeting of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans will take place in Barbados on the format of a 4-day meeting with a last day dedicated on an excursion. This meeting will be hosted by the Government of Barbados in collaboration with the Cartagena Convention Secretariat of UN Environment Programme.
This occasion will mark the opportunity to bring together the 18 Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans across the world and Representatives of the global MEAs, partners and UNEP staff, to deliberate among others, the common action to implement Regional Seas Strategic Directions 2022–2025, explore on Regional Seas contribution to ongoing negotiations on the plastics treaty and the upcoming United Nations Environmental Assembly UNEA (UNEA 6 strategic participation of Regional Seas Programme and the MEAs) ; not to forget Ocean Governance, highlighting among others, the new agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The Global Meeting of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans also constitutes a platform to explore ways to advance blue economy and support small island developing states owing to their challenges and vulnerabilities.
This meeting will build on the outcomes of the 22nd global meeting held from 25 to 28 May 2022 in Mahe, Seychelles, whose objective was to launch the new Regional Seas Strategic Directions 2022-2025 and kickstart its implementation. The 23rd global meeting will now rather focus on its implementation and its outcomes in the different regions.
Twenty-Second Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Programme (unep.org) – held in Mahe, Seychelles, 25-28 May 2022
Notes to Editors
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