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Manado Explained: Getting the oceans on the climate change agenda

The first World Ocean Conference held recently in Manado North Sulawesi drew an estimated 4000 participants together to talk about the oceans in the context of climate change. One of the major outcomes of the meeting was the endorsement by 75 countries of the Manado Ocean Declaration (MOD).

PDF format PDF  Download   Manado Ocean Declaration, May 2009 (112 kb)

What’s in the Declaration.

The MOD, a non-binding agreement, calls for a reduction in ocean-pollution, funding for sustainable development in developing countries and increased research into both how climate-change affects the oceans and the role oceans play in mitigating climate-change. The MOD was conceived as a way of getting ocean issues onto the agenda at the COP-15 – the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009. At present the UNFCCC focuses climate change mitigation efforts on reducing carbon emissions through the management of energy and forestry. With the Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2012, signatories to the MOD, especially those from developing countries hope that it will ensure that oceans play a greater role in any new agreement.

The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has set himself the task of getting the MOD rocognised as a part of the climate change negotiations that will take place in Copenhagen.

The MOD and developing countries

The MOD was championed by developing countries, who called for the inclusion of strong statements on technology transfer and financial support from developed nations to support climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. However, the declaration contained no specific commitments for funding or emission targets, and was consequently criticized by some participants as too weak to be effective. However despite its shortfalls, there was general agreement that the MOD represented a good first step. This first step is important for developing countries if they are hoping to obtain funding for climate related ocean issues. Currently the UNFCCC financial support for developing countries is directed through carbon trading and adaptation funds managed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). To expand this funding to include the ocean issues outlined in the MOD, it must be accepted by the states parties to the UNFCCC.

The MOD and developed countries

Despite the support from developing countries for the MOD, it is not clear that developed countries will make the inclusion of ocean issues a priority at the COP-15. This feeling and the fact that a number of developed countries were keen to water down the Declaration gave rise to the mention of a developing “climate divide”. The term relates to the fact that many developing countries will feel the brunt of climate change without having contributed significantly to the problem. The NGO sector at the conference suggested that the developed countries were fearful of an increasing financial burden if ocean issues were part of the equation.

Wednesday 27 May 2009