Australia's role in translating outcomes on oceans from Rio+20 to the Pacific

Frances attended the 2012 United Nations Rio+20 summit where she represented Macquarie University. She was at the time studying a Bachelors of Environment and Law and was a member of the Global Leadership Program, as well as working for the Environmental Protectors Office. Frances is now currently studying a Master of Environmental Law at Sydney University.

Executive Summary

The purpose of this paper is threefold:

1) to consolidate the current international and Pacific region instruments and policies in relation to ocean management;

2) to evaluate these structures on their effectiveness; and

3) to make recommendations for future directions, with a specific focus on Australia's role.

The Pacific region is particularly vulnerable to environmental change and marine degradation. The Pacific nations, including Australia, seek a 'Blue Economy', to encourage sustainable management of ocean resources. At an international level, there is a dearth of effective instruments. On a regional level, the Pacific has implemented many ongoing plans which show great promise. To secure a safe future for the oceans, more carefully crafted international instruments which clearly interlock with regional structures are required. Australia, as one of two developed nations in the region, has an important and pivotal role to play in these structures, as a support and facilitator for small island nations.

Main points:

  •   Oceans are a priority point for the Rio+20 talks;

  •   The Pacific region seeks a 'Blue Economy';

  •   There are several effective regional instruments for oceans management already in existence in the Pacific;

  •   A more integrated, consolidated international framework for oceans management is needed; and

  • Australia can play a vital role in providing support and resources for developing neighbours to progress a Blue Economy.

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