Setting Goals to Protect Half the Planet

Posted on 12 June 2012 by admin

By Coralie Tripier

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 12 (IPS/TerraViva) The high seas, crucial regions of the world’s oceans that are beyond national jurisdiction, account for 45 percent of the planet, but are today under severe threat from overfishing and pollution.

“The next big global environmental crisis that is looming upon us is the meltdown of the oceans,” warns Rémi Parmentier, spokesperson for the High Seas Alliance, a group of NGOs striving for the conservation of the high seas.

Ocean conservation is one of the seven key points of Rio+20. Credit: Sean O'Flaherty/CC By 2.5

The High Seas Alliance is preparing actively for Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development taking place Jun. 20-22 in Brazil.

The Alliance is hoping to convince governments of the importance of marine biodiversity, and the need to take decisive action in Rio.

“States wrongfully think that they have other priorities – the financial crisis, for example,” Parmentier told IPS. “But giving priority to artificial wealth, such as money and financial services, while putting aside natural wealth, that is to say all that we get from our ecosystem, is a big mistake.

“Nature, climate, biodiversity… Those are elements without which we cannot develop in a fair and sustainable way,” he said.

Among these urgent actions is the elimination of Environmentally Harmful Subsidies (EHS), through which governments keep funding polluting activities such as fossil fuel energy, overfishing and industrial agriculture, while disadvantaging green sectors, activists say.

“I’m thinking about subsidies that fund fossil energy with several billion dollars every year, or also about the one billion euro that the EU (European Union) gives to fishing every year, thus fuelling its overcapacity,” Parmentier said.

Those issues were raised at the first Earth Summit in 1992, but not enough has been done since to address them, critics say.

“It is unbelievable to think that 20 years after Rio and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, we keep funding polluting energy sources and reducing in many countries the subsidies given to renewable energy, which is actually part of the solution,” Parmentier said.

Earlier this month, Parmentier held a press conference at U.N. headquarters in New York alongside spokespersons from the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and International Partners for Sustainable Agriculture.

The three speakers focused on the future launch of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which would set targets and enable progress to be measured. These SDGs would include ocean conservation, one of the seven key points of Rio+20.

“Unless there is an implementing agreement on high seas conservation, we and our governments cannot have a say on what is happening on almost half of the planet,” Parmentier said.

This “other half of the planet” is increasingly suffering from heavy pollution and overfishing, leading to the near extinction of many species: for example, 90 percent of the biggest predators, such as tuna, cod and sharks, have already disappeared or are greatly endangered, according to Ocean Sentry, a Spanish environmental NGO.

For Parmentier, the long-waited conference in Rio will be the moment to finally take urgent decisions and set mandatory deadlines.

“States have reiterated many times within the G20, the EU and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) their will to put an end to these Environmentally Harmful Subsidies, but the truth is that we’re still waiting. This summit on green energy will definitely be a chance to decide on deadlines.”

Download PDF File

Download TERRAVIVA PDF File   Download TERRAVIVA PDF File


Expo Milano

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos


Terraviva talks to Giuseppe Sala, CEO of EXPO Milano 2015 Expo Milano 2015 is in Rio to kick off its global dialogue on food and energy. During a side on June 21, CEO Giuseppe Sala gives an overview of the Expo 2015 that will run from May to October in Milan, Italy.more >>.

Upcoming Events


RSS News from our partners

  • Are you ready to Connect4Climate?
    World Bank's social media campaign engaged African youth caring about climate change.
  • Natural capital accounting
    Thomson Reuters Foundation and the World Bank have jointly produced a video explaining the concept of “natural capital accounting” in the run-up to the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development. The seven-minute video news release (VNR) was created as part of a World Bank campaign for countries to carry through on promises to include the full [...]
  • IUCN World Conservation Congress
    IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is a long standing member of COM+. It helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, [...]
  • IFC, Union for Ethical BioTrade Encourage Businesses to Protect Biodiversity in Latin America
    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 17, 2012—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Union for Ethical BioTrade today announced an agreement at the Rio+20 Conference to increase private sector awareness of biodiversity and strengthen market frameworks for protecting it in Latin America. In addition to aiding environmental conservation, the partnership will help [...]
  • Rio de Janeiro e Banco Mundial lançam inédito Programa de Desenvolvimento de Baixo Carbono da Cidade
    RIO DE JANEIRO, 18 de junho de 2012 – A Cidade do Rio de Janeiro e o Banco Mundial lançaram hoje, durante a Cúpula dos Prefeitos – evento paralelo à Conferência das Nações Unidas sobre Desenvolvimento Sustentável-Rio+20 –, um programa pioneiro na esfera municipal para colocar em prática ações para o desenvolvimento de baixo carbono [...]

Sponsors and Partners of TerraViva Rio + 20


TerraViva is an independent publication of IPS Inter Press Service news agency. The opinions expressed in TerraViva do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of IPS or the official position of any of its sponsors or partners.