Resolutions on coral reefs and marine biodiversity adopted by the General Assembly at its 65th session

UN General Assembly (UNGA) Second Committee Adopts a Resolution on Coral Reefs

A text titled “Protection of coral reefs for sustainable livelihoods and development” was introduced by Australia (document A/C.2/65/L.28/Rev.1), and was also adopted without a vote. In the draft, the UNGA would urge States to take all necessary steps to protect coral reefs while taking immediate and concerted global, regional and local action to respond to the challenges of climate change and ocean acidification. It would also urge them to adopt and implement comprehensive and integrated approaches for managing and enhancing coral reefs and related ecosystems. Fiji, speaking on behalf of Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), welcomed the draft resolution, underlining that climate change and ocean acidification were the greatest threats to coral reefs, and affected most of the Group’s members

UNGA also adopts a resolutions addressing marine biodiversity

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has also adopted a resolution highlighting the threats faced by marine biodiversity. By a vote of 123 in favour to 1 against (Turkey) with 2 abstentions (Colombia and Venezuela), the Assembly adopted its 38-page omnibus resolution on “oceans and the law of the sea” (A/RES/65/37), reiterating, among other things, the essential need for cooperation, including through capacity-building and transfer of marine technology, to ensure that all States, especially developing countries, small islands and coastal African States, were able to implement the Convention and to benefit from the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, as well as to participate fully in all forums and processes dealing with related legal issues.

Extract of the resolution on “oceans and the law of the sea” (A/RES/65/37)

The General Assembly

Reiterating its deep concern at the serious adverse impacts on the marine environment and biodiversity, in particular on vulnerable marine ecosystems and their physical and biogenic structure, including coral reefs, cold water habitats, hydrothermal vents and seamounts, of certain human activities,

Expressing concern that climate change continues to increase the severity and incidence of coral bleaching throughout tropical seas and weakens the ability of reefs to withstand ocean acidification, which could have serious and irreversible negative effects on marine organisms, particularly corals, as well as to withstand other pressures, including overfishing and pollution,

IX. Marine environment and marine resources

129. Notes the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including its findings on the acidification of oceans, and in this regard encourages States and competent international organizations and other relevant institutions, individually and in cooperation, to urgently pursue further research on ocean acidification, especially programmes of observation and measurement, noting in particular paragraph 4 of decision IX/20 adopted at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Bonn, Germany, from 19 to 30 May 2008,53 and the continued work of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and to increase national, regional and international efforts to address levels of ocean acidity and the negative impact of such acidity on vulnerable marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs;

X. Marine biodiversity

181. Acknowledges the Micronesia Challenge, the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape project, the Caribbean Challenge and the Coral Triangle Initiative, which in particular seek to create and link domestic marine protected areas to better facilitate ecosystem approaches, and reaffirms the need for further international cooperation, coordination and collaboration in support of such initiatives;

182. Reiterates its support for the International Coral Reef Initiative, takes note of the International Coral Reef Initiative General Meeting, held in Monaco from 12 to 15 January 2010, and supports the work under the Jakarta Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity and the elaborated programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity related to coral reefs;

183. Encourages States and relevant international institutions to improve efforts to address coral bleaching by, inter alia, improving monitoring to predict and identify bleaching events, supporting and strengthening action taken during such events and improving strategies to manage reefs to support their natural resilience and enhance their ability to withstand other pressures, including ocean acidification;

184. Also encourages States to cooperate, directly or through competent international bodies, in exchanging information in the event of accidents involving vessels on coral reefs and in promoting the development of economic assessment techniques for both restoration and non-use values of coral reef systems;

185. Emphasizes the need to mainstream sustainable coral reef management and integrated watershed management into national development strategies, as well as into the activities of relevant United Nations agencies and programmes, international financial institutions and the donor community;

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