I am speaking on behalf of the European Union, its 27 Member States and the European Community.
First of all the EU would like to express its sincere appreciation for the report on the results of the Assessment of Assessments contained in document A/64/88 and the work put down by the Group of Experts and the organizations and individuals involved in its preparation.
The planned Regular Process would be a long-term commitment which needs to rely on System-wide Coherence and a high level of commitment for the Process in the UN as a whole. It further needs strengthened coordination and collaboration mechanisms between and within different UN-agencies, as well as a clear division of work between them. In the oceans context it will be important to ask not what UN agencies will do but rather how they will interact, prioritise, contribute and deliver.
In the same way the Member States will have to express willingness to share information, deliver input to the Process and participate through relevant regional bodies and national agencies, as well as consider the issue of funding of the Regular Process as a whole.
The EU supports that capacity building should go hand-in-hand with the Regular Process to strengthen mechanisms for marine management as well as assessments capacity. This will help to counteract todays present situation dominated by fragmented information from many different and uneven distributed global assessments. Furthermore, a strong local ownership in the Regular Process is a prerequisite for global coverage and full participation. In this connection, the EU would like to stress the importance of securing developing countries participation and their involvement in the process, not least to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The ideas behind a Regular Process has close links to commitments under the UNCLOS and other UN normative frameworks and is highly relevant to the global development and our common interest to work towards environmental sustainability and poverty alleviation. Viable, wisely managed and productive marine and coastal areas are contributing to the creation of stable and sustainable economies as well as poverty eradication.
A process that could be highly relevant to the Regular Process, is the ongoing deliberation within the framework of UNEP regarding the strengthening of the policy-science interface on biodiversity, possibly through the establishment of an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES. In order to ensure an optimal utilization of resources, the interrelation between the possible development, mandates, decision-making processes and institutional arrangement of both processes needs to be clarified. This is particularly important if UNEP would be involved in both.
The European Union welcomes and stands ready to participate in the discussions on the mandate of a Regular Process, its relation with other processes, and its operational and institutional arrangements.
The EU supports in particular that, in addition to an evaluation of the state of the marine environment, the socio-economic aspect of living conditions and business should be included in the Regular Process. The socio-economic assessments can consist of cost of environmental degradation-assessments, eco-system services assessment, best practices of useful policy measures in different economic sectors and other relevant information which help policy makers. A regular assessment process must also go beyond the scientific-technical aspects and be policy-relevant to be really useful for the national decision-making process.
We further believe that it is of primary importance to develop a functional science-policy interface on marine issues. In order to ensure that the outcomes of a Regular Process are accepted as a basis for decision-making, it should have an intergovernmental character. In other words, it will be crucial that the Regular Process has a recognised relevance, legitimacy and credibility, which could be ensured by endorsing its products at governmental level.
The AoA report suggests a five-year cycle, the first of which will run from 2010 to 2014. To avoid duplication of work, the EU believes that it is essential to draw, to the extent possible, on experiences and results from similar assessments in other international organizations, institutions and conventions, such as CBD, OSPAR and HELCOM, by linking up the Regular Process to these other processes already from the start to maximize mutual benefits. In this connection it might also be worth mentioning the EU Water Framework Directive and in particular the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (adopted in June 2008). The latter aims to achieve a good environmental status of the EU’s marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend.
Resolution 57/141 affirmed that the Regular Process should be established under the United Nations. The AoA report identifies two options by which the UNGA could provide guidance to the Regular Process: through the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (the ICP) or through the organization of ad hoc meetings. Bearing in mind the recent discussions on ICP and its specific informal character and more open agenda, the EU finds merits in the option to convene ad hoc meetings for the AoA.
In order to underline the intergovernmental character of the Regular Process, the EU finds the ideas interesting of giving a Management and Review Body the mandate to negotiate and adopt the findings and recommendations that are generated by the Regular Process. Therefore it would be advisable that the Management and Review Body should consist only of states, but that the composition of this Body should be open-ended, based on membership. The involvement of IGOs and NGOs should be ensured by recognizing them as observers, and by adopting rules of procedure that allow for transparent and participative ways of cooperation. In the same way, the EU finds the idea of establishing a Panel of Experts worthwhile exploring.
Thank you Mr. Co-Chairpersons.