WG 002: Working Group on World Ocean Assessment (2010-2015)

In 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the international community decided to maintain the Oceans under permanent review by “establishing by 2004 a regular process under the United Nations for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects (GRAME or Regular Process), both current and foreseeable, building on existing regional assessments”. This was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) later in 2002 (Resolution 57/141). Carried out through a regular process, the Regular Process is expected to play a major role in helping decision-makers finding and applying sound and sustainable solutions to the challenges being faced, both on global and regional level.

“Assessment of Assessments” (AoA) as a preparatory stage towards the establishment of the Regular Process, identified best practices and approaches (including assessment methodologies), thematic and geographic assessment gaps and needs, uncertainties in scientific knowledge, data gaps and research needs and further provided a framework and options to build the Regular Process. As two of the 21 identified regions solely for the purpose of reviewing assessments at the regional level, the North West Pacific Ocean and East Asia Sea’s marine environmental status, priority environmental issues, regional capacity building and gaps were fully reviewed in the report of AoA.

The IOC Medium-Term Strategy 2008-2013 are formulated around four High-Level Objectives (HLO) and eleven associated Activities. One of activities for HLO 3 “Safeguarding the health of ocean ecosystems” is “Actively contribute to the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects”. IOC, as the competent body and focal point for ocean matters in the UN system, responding concretely in its mandated areas of activity to the Johannesburg Plan of Action and the UN Millennium Development Goals, and acting in conformity with international law, including relevant UN conventions. IOC played a crucial role in implementation of AoA programme serving as one of lead agencies for the process to provide secretariat services and coordinate the work, and it will continue to play a leading role in the Regular Process.

Today there are many signs that marine ecosystems are experiencing unprecedented environmental change, driven by human activities. That is the same case in the WESTPAC region. As the sub-commission of IOC, there is no doubt that WESTPAC should actively contribute to the activities of GRAME, play a full coordinating role in WESTPAC region, and organize its member states to engage in Regular Process. During the execution of AoA programme, a lot of work had been done in the WESTPAC region. Several experts and regional organizations were engaged in developing the regional assessments of East Asian Seas and North West Pacific Ocean, accomplished the regional summary and help to finalize AoA final report. Also, much effort had been made for the startup of GRAME. The above-mentioned activities, together with the projects such as PEMSEA, YSLME and so on in this region, have established a good foundation for the future work.

Hence, the establishment of WESTPAC GRAME Working Group is proposed to be established to facilitate the operation of GRAME in WESTPAC region, improve the communication of member states, and find and deliver regional requirements in regular process.

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