UN declares 8 June 2009 the first official World Oceans Day. The concept for World Oceans Day proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro by the Government of Canada provides an opportunity each year to celebrate the world's oceans and our personal connection to the sea.

“Our oceans, our responsibility”

In support of World’s Ocean Day 2009, UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) continues to encourage an Ecosystem-Based Management approach to the management of oceans through the use of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) practitioners (CaMPAM) in the region. This assists countries in meeting the Caribbean Challenge target of protecting 20% of marine and coastal habitats by  2020.

Other ongoing regional projects funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) aim to reduce the negative impacts on the oceans from land and marine-based activities. One such GEF project is assisting countries of Central America to improve agricultural practices for 5 major crops (pineapples, bananas, plantains, beans and oil palm) while also reducing the level of pesticide contamination of coastal waters. Importantly, this is being done in partnership with both the private sector and local farmers. Another GEF Project on Integrating Watersheds and Coastal Areas Management for Caribbean SIDS (IWCAM) has demonstrated the importance of community involvement and integration across different economic sectors in order to effectively respond to the threats of climate change, land degradation and loss of marine biodiversity in small islands.

More recent projects involving the CEP include a Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Project and the development of a Regional Fund for Wastewater Management which will support regional collaboration to reduce the vulnerability of sensitive coastal and marine ecosystems by improving national and regional governance structures and developing new and innovative mechanisms for financing new pollution reduction activities.

The CEP also continues to provide information to the general public on the importance of a healthy marine and coastal environment through its website and various outreach materials.




8 June 2009

The first observance of World Oceans Day allows us to highlight the many ways in which oceans contribute to society.  It is also an opportunity to recognize the considerable challenges we face in maintaining their capacity to regulate the global climate, supply essential ecosystem services and provide sustainable livelihoods and safe recreation.

Indeed, human activities are taking a terrible toll on the world’s oceans and seas.  Vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as corals, and important fisheries are being damaged by over-exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing practices, invasive alien species and marine pollution, especially from land-based sources.  Increased sea temperatures, sea-level rise and ocean acidification caused by climate change pose a further threat to marine life, coastal and island communities and national economies.

Oceans are also affected by criminal activity.  Piracy and armed robbery against ships threaten the lives of seafarers and the safety of international shipping, which transports 90 per cent of the world’s goods.  Smuggling of illegal drugs and the trafficking of persons by sea are further examples of how criminal activities threaten lives and the peace and security of the oceans.

Several international instruments drawn up under the auspices of the United Nations address these numerous challenges.  At their centre lies the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  It provides the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, and is the basis for international cooperation at all levels.  In addition to aiming at universal participation, the world must do more to implement this Convention and to uphold the rule of law on the seas and oceans.

The theme of World Oceans Day, “Our oceans, our responsibility”, emphasizes our individual and collective duty to protect the marine environment and carefully manage its resources.  Safe, healthy and productive seas and oceans are integral to human well-being, economic security and sustainable development.