Ocean Sustainability: Monaco Message

Humanity has come to think of ocean resources and their potential as limitless. But the planet and its resources are finite. Humanity has carelessly exploited the oceans and its resources. This puts at risk the ability of oceans to continue to provide food, economic values and environmental services to billions of people.

Sustainable development of the oceans must begin with the effective implementation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and all the other international instruments consistent with its framework. Policy discussions must be based on sound scientific assessments and research which require the concerted efforts of scientists and policymakers.

Reiterating our common commitment to the green economy and poverty eradication we call for the establishment of Sustainable Development Goals integrated with the MDGs into a single post 2015 framework. One of those goals should be focused on the sustainable development of the oceans, and the importance of the blue economy, a goal which will address all the sectors that rely on ocean resources and space but urgently need to be integrated and made sustainable to continue the provision of their economic, social and environmental services; and to raise the living standards of deprived communities.

The Monaco Workshop, having met from 28‐30 November 2011 considered three areas pertaining to the oceans—food security, energy and tourism—and their related governance in the context of the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

The Government of the Principality of Monaco proposes the following from the Monaco Workshop to be considered as an important contribution to the Rio+20 outcome document.


Fisheries and aquaculture are critical to food and nutrition security. Fish provides nearly 115 million tonnes a year towards total human intake of animal protein—nearly 16% of that total.  Individually, nearly half the world’s population relies on fish for a significant part of its protein.  Just over half of this fish comes from capture fisheries; the rest from aquaculture, which is continuing to grow rapidly.  Ocean capture fisheries also provide 27 million tonnes a year as feed for use in aquaculture and stock rearing.  Fisheries and aquaculture support 540 million livelihoods. Exploitation of many fish stocks is at, or beyond, sustainable levels.   Conserving these food resources, and improving the ways in which they are used, are essential to feed the world’s growing population. Actions to achieve these aims can benefit all three dimensions, and should include:

Economic Dimensions: Reduce fishing capacity and effort managed by national authorities and regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) where needed to deliver the WSSD commitments on poverty eradication and sustainable fisheries.

At the regional level, promote processes which lead to sustainable management and equitable allocation of fisheries resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which is an additional factor undermining fish‐stock sustainability, results in huge economic losses to legitimate fishers, and damages the environment, by further implementing the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, and by becoming parties to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement and the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.   Also improve flag State control of vessels and nationals (both individuals and companies).

Intensify efforts to deliver the WSSD commitment to eliminate subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing and to over‐capacity, and implement World Trade Organization approaches to clarify and improve disciplines on fisheries subsidies, taking into account the importance of this sector to developing countries.

Promote aquaculture that is economically and environmentally sustainable by conducting research into systems less dependent on feed from fish or farm‐animal sources, such as species feeding on algae.

The private sector, consumers and governments should advance fisheries eco‐certification in order to support a market based on genuine sustainable seafood choices by creating rewards and incentives for those fisheries that meet internationally agreed standards for environmentally responsible fisheries.

Social Dimensions: Recognise the economic, social and cultural rights of communities dependent on fisheries through the steps to achieve sustainable levels of fish stocks and aquaculture systems as well as healthy marine habitats.

Take appropriate measures to give communities reliant on small‐scale fisheries and aquaculture secure access to fisheries resources, land, food and work, and support for the processing and marketing of their products. This would improve livelihoods and promote food security in such communities, especially in developing countries.

Develop and implement international guidelines for securing small‐scale fisheries.

Encourage States to address high levels of death and injury among their fishworkers.

Improve health by addressing the management of human waste as part of efforts to reduce nutrient inputs.

Environmental Dimensions: Promote the implementation of ecosystem approaches to both capture fisheries and aquaculture.  Ensure that the interests of fisheries and marine aquaculture are addressed within the framework of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), eliminating unsustainable practices such as IUU fishing.  Encourage further measures such as improved monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement, and schemes to document catch and trade (including capacity building for all these tasks).

Eliminate, by 2015, the use of destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling in sensitive areas, dynamite fishing, electro‐fishing and poisons.  The practice of shark finning also should be banned.

For aquaculture, ecosystem approaches should involve integrating decisions on site selection and management, the selection of species and stocks suitable for the local environment, the types and sources of feed, the use of veterinary medicines, discharges and emissions which can reach the marine environment, and impacts on wild species and other aspects of the environment.

Recover anthropogenic oxygen‐deficient dead zones in the oceans by reducing nutrient inputs from land by 50% or more before 2025.  This should include improved management of agricultural fertilization and wastes, human wastes, wastes from food industries, and emissions of nitrogen oxides from traffic and shipping. Such improvements could be focused through the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land‐Based Activities (UNEP GPA), and should include further capacity‐building and
mobilization of resources for investment in treatment of human wastes and waste water.

Recognize that ocean acidification may alter the physiology of many marine organisms, either directly or indirectly by changes in the food web, and may represent an additional stress to both wild and cultured economically‐relevant species. Ocean acidification also will alter and endanger the growth of reef‐building corals, which are highly productive ecosystems that host about a third of marine biodiversity and bring food to almost 500 million people throughout the world.

Implications for Governance:  Review RFMO performance and enhance coordination with UNEP Regional Seas Programmes. Management of aquaculture could be assisted by the development of international guidelines. Strengthen UNEP GPA to be able to effectively address human waste.


Dramatic reduction in costs for modern renewable energy technologies, improvements in reliability and efficiency, and research and development have brought renewable energy into the mainstream of the global energy mix, providing multiple economic, social and environmental benefits.

Economic Dimensions: Established technologies such as offshore windpower are increasing rapidly in both scale of investment and contribution to power generation. Increasing interest in the viability of wave and tidal power and other emerging marine renewable energy technologies presents the potential of dramatically increasing the share of sustainable renewable energy in the
energy mix in many countries with offshore resource potential.

In order to support the development and deployment of marine renewable energy, further investment in technology, research and development is required together with increased efforts to undertake resource potential assessment and mapping, data collection and monitoring and economic modelling.

Support to marine renewable energy deployment must be assured by developing a consistent and predictable enabling policy, regulatory and investment framework based on best practices to support investment decisions. National and regional institutional frameworks to support investment and public private partnerships must be established or strengthened. Appropriate grid infrastructure will be required to integrate marine renewable energy.

Investment decisions should benefit from an assessment of levelised costs of power generation and take into account the contribution to carbon abatement and economic benefits such as development of industry across the value chain and employment.

Social Dimensions: Offshore wind and solar plants as well as emerging marine renewable energy present the potential of multiple benefits such as energy security, increased employment and incomes, sustainable livelihoods linked to new sustainable energy industry, avoided carbon emissions and pollution abatement.

Investment in relevant technologies can be a major contribution to addressing energy access as well as addressing the energy needs of vulnerable areas and small island developing States (SIDS) by addressing critical issues of access, energy security and sustained economic growth. Secure and sustainable energy protects against the vulnerability of SIDS to price volatility and supply and security of conventional fossil fuel imports such as diesel fuel. Marine renewable energy will be an essential component for adaptation to changing climate and precipitation patterns by allowing the ability to undertake water desalination and heating and cooling at scale.

Efforts to develop managerial, technical and entrepreneurial capacity will require to be substantially increased.

Environmental Dimensions: Offshore wind and solar and marine renewable energy technology can be the source of environmental benefits (climate) as well as challenges.

Targeted research is required to further clarify local environmental impacts on marine ecosystems and on migratory species based on the experience of existing plans, in particular tidal, wave and thermal and marine biofuel development. Design of plants should take into account experience with positive local environmental benefits.

Implications for Governance: Institutional frameworks to support the information, technology and capacity needs for renewable energy should be established or strengthened at local, national, regional and global levels.

Recognizing that the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is the only global institution focusing on renewable energy, the Rio+20 process should review the possibility of strengthening IRENA as an effective international framework to catalyze action.


Coastal tourism is a fast growing sector of the global economy. Particular attention must be paid to carrying capacity thresholds, to the values and interests of local communities, in order to avoid cultural alienation, and  to the destruction of local environmental resources and coastlines that provide precious ecosystem services and attract short‐term visitors. Sustainable tourism in vulnerable areas is possible and success stories such as the economic returns for local communities of well managed marine protected areas (MPAs) (e.g., Roatan MPA in Honduras, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia, sustainable whale and dolphin watching, etc.), particularly in SIDS, must be widely shared and promoted.

Economic Dimensions: Recognize the importance of tourism as a key source of economic income and strong contributor to job creation, particularly for developing and emerging economies, and as one of the fastest growing industries worldwide.  UNEP and UNWTO  have stressed (in the Green Economy Report (GER) issued in 2011) that in a Business as Usual (BAU) scenario up to 2050, tourism growth will imply increases in energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and solid waste disposal. The GER shows however than a combination of investments and policy measures can reverse this trend. This would require strong leadership in guiding these changes.

Social Dimensions: Coastal zone tourism represents a major share of domestic and international tourist flows. To contribute to the development of livelihoods and poverty reduction, national and local governments need to work with the private sector to create more rewarding employment and to create livelihoods through the supply chain and direct sales to tourists.

ICZM should be utilized to address the complex set of sustainability and resilience issues which arise as a result of climate change, seismic activity, physical development affecting the dynamics of coastal erosion, increasing occurrence of extreme weather events, and access to marine resources for sustainable off‐take by local communities.

Tourism development should adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which have received unprecedented levels of support from business leaders, governments and human rights groups, and to the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly.

Environmental Dimensions: Tourism is a major user of the oceans though land‐based tourism in the coastal zone and recreational activities in inshore waters. The minimization of negative impacts,  for example the ‘dumping of waste’, is the responsibility of the public and private sectors—without effective public regulation and initiatives by the private sector in the management and development of tourism impacting on the ocean, the commons will be undermined. For example, tourism to Antarctica, SIDS and other vulnerable areas is increasing rapidly and poses particular sustainability management challenges which need urgently to be addressed. Recreational activities in inshore waters and coral reefs require careful regulation either by marine park authorities or local governments in order to maximise positive impacts and minimise negative impacts.

Implications for Governance: The tourism sector, Ministries of Environment, Planning and Development and local governments should lead the application of existing principles, standards, guidelines and recommendations for new tourist developments and refurbishment of those already established that promote the application of best practices in energy, waste management and water efficiency, and poverty eradication. The use of ICZM is recommended as a tool for sustainable development in coastal zones, in particular for SIDS. IMO plays the leading role in the regulation of ocean cruise tourism.  UNWTO should take increased responsibility to build capacity uptake and management for achieving sustainable tourism implementation.

In the era of global governance Rio+20 should initiate an international agreement on areas beyond national jurisdiction.  It should also establish, in order to achieve synergy among all actors and to enhance governance across sectors, a mechanism to achieve greater effectiveness and coherence in the United Nations system.

This is a critical time in our stewardship of the earth. Rio+20 can put us on the right path to a more sustainable planet for a ‘future we want’ and oceans we need and to a fair and equitable world. A change has to come.

To learn more about ocean sustainability visit the bemonaco2011 website

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