Manado Ocean Declaration Adopted at World Ocean Conference - Ocean States Eye Copenhagen

Representatives from 76 countries convening at the inaugural World Ocean Conference (WOC) agreed Thursday to push ocean issues as an agenda at the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

We reiterate the importance of achieving an effective outcome at the COP 15 (Conference of Parties) of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Copenhagen, and invite parties to consider how the coastal and ocean dimension could be appropriately reflected in their decisions, the Manado Ocean Declaration (MOD) read.

Despite criticism the MOD was not strong enough to push the international community to help developing nations deal with the impacts of climate change, Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi, chairman of the conference, said the WOC had put oceans center stage in world attention and raised awareness of the importance of oceans in climate change. The declaration is a good start to putting oceans as a key agenda at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, he said.

Negotiations to reach a consensus have seen the softening of the language of the final declaration to allow a compromise between developed and developing countries, with provisions for adaptation funds and transfer of technology scaled back noticeably.

But representatives from both developed and developing countries expressed satisfaction with the MOD, with most countries acknowledging the United States positive approach toward the problems during the conference had helped produce a quick compromise on the key articles.

US delegation head Mary M. Glackin said her country was pleased the WOC had adopted the declaration, adding she hoped the UNFCCC would take note of ocean issues at its conference in Copenhagen.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also expressed support for the outcome of the conference, saying it could help focus the world attention on the link between oceans and climate change, and advance global efforts to find science based solutions to the problems we face.

In his opening speech, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged the world to ensure ocean-sensitive policies were incorporated into the new regime so that humankind approach to the challenge of climate change would be comprehensive and holistic.

If the climate convention in Copenhagen adopts that approach, and the international community and all stakeholders carry it out faithfully, humankind will have a much brighter outlook, he said.

British Ambassador to Indonesia Martin Hatfull, representing his country at the conference, said the fact both developing and developed nations could come to an agreement showed the world had now recognized the importance of oceans and the need to include the issue at the UN climate talks.

Desima Williams of Grenada, a small island state vulnerable to climate change impacts, agreed the declaration had accommodated the interests of small island state.

The Copenhagen talks are expected to result in a new agreement on reducing carbon emissions by a set target for all developed nations by 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Through the MOD, the ocean can play a greater role in a new agreement after the Kyoto Protocol, said Eddy Pratomo, chairman of the conference senior official meeting.