Strengthening cooperation among UN bodies in tackling ocean and climate change

By Senia Febrica

On 1st November 2021, the One Ocean Hub organised a roundtable to bring together UN bodies and researchers from different disciplines on the climate/ocean nexus. The event was titled ‘SBSTA Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue Theme: Strengthening cooperation and collaboration among relevant UN bodies in tackling ocean and climate change’ for the COP26 Virtual Ocean Pavilion. The roundtable explored the need for joint interventions by the UN System and global organisations to build ocean resilience in the face of climate change, using sustainable and inclusive mitigation and adaptation strategies. This blogpost summarises the key messages arising from the roundtable, and ongoing work under the One Ocean Hub that contributes to the implementation of these points.

Key messages to policy makers

  • policy interventions need to consider the connectivity between different marine ecosystems and the climate-related services they provide, through integrated ecosystem management in areas within and beyond national jurisdiction (Dr Sian Rees, Associate Professor of Social-Ecological Systems, University of Plymouth, One Ocean Hub)
  • Understanding of connectivity between migratory species, land and sea, and people living on land can be advanced by applying human rights when designing climate adaptation and mitigation measures, as well as to avoid leaving out ocean-dependent communities (Dr Bernadette Snow, Deputy Director, One Ocean Hub)
  • the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems need both coordinated science assessment and joint action among international agencies and multilateral instruments. (Professor Lisa Levin, Distinguished Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego & DOSI)
  • ocean-related adaptation and mitigation action needs to be included under all relevant UNFCCC workstreams and the global stock take, as well as inclusion of the ocean in Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans (Dr. Joanna Post, Programme Management Officer for Research & Systematic Observation, UNFCCC)
  • align international finance to support ocean-climate action, recognising the vital work of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development with a view to strengthening scientific underpinning of strengthened ocean-climate action moving forward (Dr. Joanna Post, Programme Management Officer for Research & Systematic Observation, Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC)
  • co-designing solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation is needed between experts from different disciplines and with women and youth (Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO – IOC-UNESCO)
  • include ocean-dependent communities in developing adaptation measure (Professor Manuel Barange, Director, Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Resources Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN – FAO)
  • more streamlined guidance for governments is needed to scale up climate-biodiversity action, through collaboration between different UN agencies (Dr Joseph Appiott, Coordinator, Marine, Coastal and Island Biodiversity, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity – CBD)
  • cooperation between different UN agencies is needed to streamline ocean-climate cooperation assistance and capacity building to Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries (Mr Fredrik Haag, Head of the Office for London Convention/Protocol & Ocean Affairs, Marine Environment Division, International Maritime Organization –IMO)
  • the World Ocean Assessment is an exemplary mechanism to strengthen collaboration between different UN agencies covering environmental, economic and social aspects to support decisions for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of the UN Ocean Science Decade (Dr. Carlos Garcia-Soto, Coordinator of the Group of Experts of the UN Regular Process – World Ocean Assessment III, Spanish National Research Council).
  • UN Bodies and Agencies, together with researchers are here to support COP26 and mainstream oceans into the negotiations (Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO – IOC-UNESCO)

The roundtable was chaired by Mr Eden Charles, Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago; Chairperson of the Advisory Board of One Ocean Hub.

Role of research for sustainable development

 The One Ocean Hub

  • is documenting progress and lessons learnt in transdisciplinary ocean research with a view to supporting science-policy interfaces that integrate different stakeholders and human rights-holders, as well as experts from marine sciences and social sciences, law, humanities and arts (Wahome, Hills, and Morgera, 30 August 2020; 29 October 2020) and shared key learnings with the UN Decade for Ocean Science in this policy brief. To learn more about the One Ocean Hub transdisciplinary approach in climate-ocean research join our roundtable on “the Ocean and Climate Justice: Impact, Adaptation and Mitigation” organised for Scottish Government Climate Ambition Zone on Friday, 5th November 2021 at 12:00-14:00 GMT. Register here

works with FAO and UNEP to highlight the role, needs, and interests of ocean-dependent communities including small-scale fishers, children as ocean defenders. See also our event on Friday 12th at the virtual Ocean Pavilion on these topics.

  • has made suggestions on how to address ecological connectivity in the BBNJ process, i.e. the UN negotiations on a new legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction;
  • contributes toward capacity development in Small Island Developing States and Low-and-Middle-Income Countries, bringing together various ocean decision makers, scientists, civil society, and communities to find integrative, holistic, and transformative solutions.
  • The research conducted under the One Ocean Hub can contribute to the key areas for action identified in the second WOA, including cleaning up the ocean from waste, pollution, and hazardous substance; protecting marine ecosystems; understanding the ocean for sustainable management; promoting safety from the ocean; sustainable food from the ocean; sustainable economic use of the ocean; and effective implementation of international law.
  • Published a  policy brief on climate change highlighting that COP26 should underscore the role of the human rights-based and ecosystem-based approach to ensure co-benefits for the protection of marine biodiversity, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and multiple Sustainable Development Goals.

For any questions or opportunities to collaborate, please contact Dr Senia Febrica, knowledge exchange associate of the Hub.