Global Ocean Commission launches

World leaders have united under an independent Global Ocean Commission with the goal of reversing degradation of the ocean and restoring it to full health and productivity. The group officially launched on February 12 with an initial membership of eleven senior political figures from around the world, including Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada. Former Costa Rican President José María Figueres, South African cabinet minister Trevor Manuel and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband MP, will chair the body. The United States is not represented on the commission, although the group noted they plan to add commissioners in the future.

The Global Ocean Commission originated as an initiative of the Pew Environment Group, in partnership with Somerville College at the University of Oxford, Adessium Foundation and Oceans 5. During 2013-14, the Commission will analyze key threats to the international waters, which make up almost half of the Earth’s surface but are not owned by any one country. The Commission will publish its final recommendations early in 2014, shortly before the UN General Assembly begins discussions on protecting high seas biodiversity.

The first Commission meeting will take place in March in Cape Town, with further meetings scheduled across the year. During the course of its deliberations, the Commission will seek input from a diverse group of constituencies including existing ocean users, scientists, economists, business leaders and trade unions, and release interim reports on specific topics during the course of its work.

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