Article by Adianto P. Simamora , THE JAKARTA POST , JAKARTA | Sat, 01/23/2010 12:48 PM | National
Indonesia will once again raise ocean issues at the upcoming UN conference in Bali, to press for world recognition of the role of oceans in climate change.
The Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry said the country’s delegation would push the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to include oceans in its program of work to help protect the oceans from the impacts of rising temperatures.
“We hope UNEP will adopt the ocean as its main mandate in its program of work,” senior official Hendra Yusran Siry told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
He added that once UNEP had done so, it would be easier to promote ocean issues at upcoming climate talks.
More than 120 environmental ministers are scheduled to meet at the Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Bali, organized by UNEP.
The meeting will discuss, among others, green economies, biodiversity and ecosystems. The UNEP has named 2010 its Biodiversity Year.
A draft decision on oceans, proposed by Indonesia, calls on UNEP to mainstream marine and coastal strategy into its program of work to improve the protection of maritime ecosystems.
The draft also requests UNEP and other UN agencies to support the implementation of the Manado Ocean Declaration in addressing the current state of the world’s oceans.
It also asks UNEP to support the capacity of developing countries in terms of technology to sustainably manage marine and coastal ecosystems.
The draft also calls on other countries to achieve long-term marine conservation and reduce marine and coastal pollution.
Hendra said Indonesia would also call on governments and international organizations to exchange information on climate change impacts to the marine ecosystem.
Last month’s Copenhagen climate summit failed to include the ocean issues at the Copenhagen accord.
The World Ocean Conference (WOC) hosted by Indonesia in Manado, North Sulawesi, last year adopted the Manado Ocean Declaration (MOD), which called for prioritizing ocean issues in negotiations at the Copenhagen talks.
The MOD calls for adaptation funds and technology transfers to help ocean countries – including Indonesia – deal with climate change.
A UNEP study unveiled at the Copenhagen conference said ocean acidification levels could increase by 100 times by 2050, which would lead to massive coral bleaching, destroying thousands of reefs that act as key feeding grounds for most of the world’s fish species.
The study added that by 2100, about 70 percent of cold-water corals would be exposed to corrosive waters.
It also pointed out seas and oceans absorbed a quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities.
As more CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere, the oceans have absorbed greater amounts at increasingly rapid rates, it said.
This increased absorption of atmospheric CO2 has resulted in changes to the chemical balance of oceans, causing them to become more acidic.
State Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said it had been difficult to include the issue of oceans in climate talks, mainly because of the dearth of studies on the subject.