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Commonwealth ministers call for new ways of managing ocean resources

21 February 2012
Ministers agree to intensify efforts to create greater understanding of the value of ocean resources in national development and new ways of working together to agree goals for ocean management

Ministers responsible for environment issues from Commonwealth countries have called for new ways of protecting and utilising resources from the world’s oceans in a sustainable manner and unlocking their full potential as a resource for creating jobs and improving livelihoods.

This was during the annual Commonwealth Consultative Group on Environment meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on 20 February 2012.

Chaired by the Minister of Environment for Sri Lanka, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, the main focus of the meeting was ocean governance and the green economy.

Speaking at the end of the meeting the minister said: “The Perth Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting ... identified the need for practical outcomes at Rio+20 on the blue economy, including its importance for livelihoods”.

Ministers recognised that oceans are a vital source of goods and services that support economic and social development. They provide commodities like fish and oil, and support many economic activities such as tourism and the transportation of goods.

But human pressures are mounting and damaging the ability of oceans and coastal areas to continue providing these goods and services and to support wider development objectives including a decent living for the poor, security from flooding and erosion of land, and healthy ecosystems that recycle nutrients and regulate our climate.

“We need to invest in and expand the productive potential of oceans, so they continue to provide much needed economic growth and diversification, as well as the environmental services on which our well-being depends. The concept of a green economy can help us to achieve this in a practical way,” said Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Ransford Smith.

Ministers agreed to intensify efforts to create greater understanding of the true value of ocean resources in national development, and new ways of working that bring different ministries and institutions, businesses and local resource users together to agree common objectives and goals for ocean management.

They asked the Commonwealth Secretariat to share experiences among member states on integrated ocean governance, recognising that some are leaders in these approaches, in the lead-up to the forthcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).