Coral Reefs and Multilateral Environment Agreements Uncategorized

United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) and coral reefs


The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) is being organized in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 64/236 (A/RES/64/236). The Conference will take place in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg. It is envisaged as a Conference at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government or other representatives. The Conference will result in a focused political document.

Objective of the Conference

The objective of the Conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges.

Themes of the Conference

The Conference will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.

ICRI and the UNCSD

At its 26th General Meeting (December 2011), ICRI adopted a resolution on the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development that encourages ICRI members to support the inclusion of references to the conservation and sustainable management of all coral reefs, and their importance to sustainable development in the final outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), as well as any statement of commitments which may also include the blue economy and integrated oceans management. Download the resolution (PDF File).

Zero draft of the outcome document

  • The Rio+20 Secretariat has released the zero draft of the outcome document for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) 
  • Responses to Zero Draft

    Titled “The future we want for the ocean,” Pew’s paper responds to the zero draft of the outcome document, which was issued recently by the UNCSD Bureau. Pew praises the inclusion of oceans as one of the priority areas to be addressed by potential Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also welcomes Paragraph 80 of the zero draft, which calls for the negotiation of an implementing agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on the high seas. According to Pew, “inclusion of this text reflects the broad support of States and civil society to tackle legal gaps in current management of high seas biodiversity.” However, the Pew paper suggests that the zero draft falls short in addressing fisheries issues, among others. The Pew paper includes recommendations for addressing elements that it considers weak in the draft. Download the paper.


  • Messages for Rio+20
    This briefing paper from the International Ocean Acidification Reference User Group provides essential information and highlights the actions needed on ocean acidification by Governments at Rio+20.
    Download the document (PDF File)
  • Issues Brief 4 – Oceans. This brief is aimed at providing an overview of international commitments, implementation successes, remaining gaps, challenges and emerging issues in the area of oceans, with a view to facilitating constructive discussion around oceans and marine resources in the course of the preparation for UNSD.
    Download the document (PDF File)
  • Making it Happen”, the newsletter from the Secretariat of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), features sustainable Management of Oceans as UNCSD Priority Area.
    Download the document (PDF File)
  • The Pew Environment Group has published two documents to guide States in preparing their submissions to the Compilation Document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). The publications contain recommendations for elements to include in the UNCSD outcome document, an outline of ocean-related commitments from the previous summits on sustainable development, and an analysis of gaps in implementing those commitments.
  • Oceans at Rio+20, How Well Are We Doing in Meeting the Commitments from the 1992 Earth Summit and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development? Summary for Decision Makers
    Download the document (PDF)

Submissions for the compilation document

Throughout the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD/Rio+20) preparatory process, States, leaders, and civil society have expressed the importance of maintaining a healthy ocean for achieving sustainable development objectives. In November and early December, the UNCSD received and posted almost 700 submissions for the compilation document. Submissions included inputs from political groups, States, preparatory meeting outcomes, UN entities, Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs). Many of these submissions highlight the importance of oceans and coral reefs (31 submissions).

  • Inputs from European Union and its Member States recognizing the significant economic, social and environmental contribution of coral reefs to island and coastal States, including by promoting regional cooperation on the model of the coral Triangle Initiative (CTI), and encouraging the International coral Reef Initiative (ICRI).
    Download the document (PDF File)
  • Several UN entities have issued a Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability, which highlights the role of oceans in sustainable development and offers recommendations ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
    Download the document (PDF File)
  • A recent analysis from the Global Ocean Forum reports that oceans and coasts have taken a prominent role in the discussions leading up to the Rio+20 conference. Over 50% of all Member States and all political groups and regional preparatory outcomes recognized oceans or ocean-related information in their input submissions to the Rio+20 compilation document. Member States highlighting oceans in their submissions included both developed and developing countries, and spanned all regions of the world.
    Download the analysis (PDF File)
  • The Pew Environment Group has published a synthesis document, titled “What States Want from Rio+20: The Ocean,” analyzing submissions by countries and political groups identifying what international leaders want from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) for the oceans.
    Download the document (PDF File)


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If you would like to add other resources, please contact Francis Staub.

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