Un's Commission On Sustainable Development Finds A Way Forward On Oceans Issues - Chairman Upton Forward On Oceans Issues - Chai

  • Simon Upton
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Chairman of the United Nation's Commission on Sustainable Development's Seventh Session (CSD7), Hon Simon Upton, returned to New Zealand yesterday well pleased with progress made at its New York meeting, 19 to 30 April.

"By far the biggest and most complex task facing CSD7 was a review of the adequacy of the world's agreements relating to the planet's oceans and seas.

"The fifty three countries on the CSD agreed that amongst all the issues facing the oceans, the two most pressing problems are overfishing and land based sources of pollution.

"There has never been an international forum at which Oceans issues in their totality can be debated. Instead, there have been scores of treaties and agencies that have taken a fragmented approach. The only chance of debating the big picture was an annual debate in the UN's General Assembly, but that was a largely formal affair.

"CSD7 found a way through the thicket of overlapping and cross-cutting international agreements relating to oceans by winning the agreement of members to elevate the status of the General Assembly's annual debate so that it is properly prepared and will provide an opportunity for all countries, and the myriad international agencies, to debate the big picture.

Mr Upton said, "improving an annual debate may not sound like much, but in the context of the United Nations it represents a real break through on Oceans issues.

"Oceans are genuinely a global concern. The destruction of fish stocks and out of control pollution in one region ultimately affects everybody. At CSD7 the

international community has found a way forward to a meaningful dialogue at a global level," Mr Upton said.

"New Zealand, as a small nation surrounded by oceans, has a particular interest in ensuring that the international community does try to reach agreement about how humanity treats the high seas.

Mr Upton concluded that he was very pleased that New Zealand had been able to make a valuable contribution to the successful outcome of the CSD by working hard to ensure that a record 60 Ministers attended the meeting and that those Ministers spent less time delivering sterile ten minute speeches and more time engaged in genuinely debating the issues. "It was widely agreed that New Zealand's chairmanship had reinvigorated the CSD process".

The CSD is the UN body that reviews progress made on Agenda 21 since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. CSD7 considered and made recommendations on a host of Oceans matters, including the use of flags of convenience and reducing by-catch wastage by the fishing industry. For the first time a UN body considered the environmental sustainability of the tourism industry.