Climate and Ocean Issues

The world’s oceans play a central role in regulating global climate processes (e.g., generating oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, and regulating climate and temperature), but climate change is threatening the ability of the oceans to provide these vital services. More than 50% of the human population living in 183 coastal nations are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and will suffer disproportionate impacts from ocean warming, sea level rise, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification, if bold action is not taken.

Despite the clear interlinkages between oceans and climate, these issues have not yet factored heavily into the global climate negotiations, and have been largely regarded as a sectoral issue. Recognizing this problem, members of the global oceans community have mobilized concerted efforts to call attention to critical oceans and climate issues and to emphasize the need to centrally address ocean issues in the development and implementation of climate change policy, and vice versa. The global ocean community has articulated the need for an integrated strategy for oceans and coasts within and beyond the UNFCCC to address the various interconnected elements associated with oceans and climate, including provisions for mitigation, adaptation, capacity development, scientific monitoring, and public education.

The Global Ocean Forum has made climate change a major theme of its work, emphasizing the role of oceans in the climate cycle, the vulnerability of coastal populations to climate change impacts, and the need for adequate financing to support adaptation and mitigation costs in coastal areas. In collaboration with a wide range of organizations and individuals from all sectors in the global oceans community—governments, international agencies, UN agencies, NGOs, science groups- GOF has hosted a number of multi-stakeholder discussions and conducting policy analyses on oceans and climate. A major thrust has been to bring the oceans and climate issues to the global negotiations at the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by convening Oceans Days at the COPs.


The GOF, within the framework of the Roadmap to Oceans and Climate Action (ROCA) initiative, will be carrying out the following activities in the lead-up to and during COP26 in Glasgow: 1) Preparation of the Assessing Progress on Ocean and Climate Action: 2020-2021 report; 2) Collaboration in the organization and conduct of Oceans Action Day at COP26; 3) Organization of a Virtual Ocean Pavilion at COP26.

COP26 Ocean Planning Meeting, 26 February 2021

For more information on the Global Ocean Forum’s work on Oceans and Climate, please click here.


Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021

Draft policy recommendations were first discussed at the Oceans Day at COP 21–a high-level event at UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris that brought together over 400 participants to highlight the central importance of oceans as an essential component of human well-being, especially in the 183 coastal and island nations around the world–and then were refined in the months following COP21. This proposed Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021 is intended to provide a vision for action regarding oceans and climate in the next five years—with a sense of urgency in the spirit of the landmark Paris Agreement. The Roadmap addresses six ocean and climate issue areas: The central role of oceans in regulating climate, mitigation, adaptation, displacement, financing, and capacity development. Each section presents the scientific and policy groundwork for a set of policy recommendations relevant to the particular issue.

Full Document

Roadmap Summary

Front Matter and Executive Summary
1. The Central Role of Oceans in Planetary Survival and in Human Economic and Social Well-being: Choices for Decision-makers
2. Mitigation
3. Adaptation
4. Displacement
5. Financing
6. Capacity Development
Conclusions and Endnotes


The Oceans Day at the UNFCCC COP 21 – December 4, 2015, Rio Conventions Pavilion, Le Bourget, Paris, France

The Global Ocean Forum, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission/UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Ocean and Climate Platform, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (Japan), and the University of Delaware, together with 40 collaborating partners organized the Oceans Day at COP 21 in Paris. The purpose of the Oceans Day was to advance the oceans and climate change agenda at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 21) and beyond. The Oceans Day at COP 21 (Friday, December 4, 2015) was held at the Rio Conventions Pavilion (in the Civil Society Zone) in cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat.

Final Oceans Day at COP 21 Program

Summary Report of Oceans Day at COP 21

IISD Coverage of Oceans Day at COP 21

Dec 2 Recommendations on Oceans and Climate – long

Dec 7 Recommendations from Oceans Day – short version

Oceans Day – List of Participants


Panel 1. Setting the Stage: The Climate and Oceans Context – Challenges and Opportunities

Perspectives on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation and the Blue Economy – Dr. Hans Hoogeveen, Vice-Minister for Agriculture, The Netherlands

Climate Change Issues, Challenges, and Initiatives: Perspectives from the Archipelagic State of Indonesia – Dr. Ir. Achmad Poernomo, Senior Advisor on Public Policy for Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia

Toward a Strategic Action Plan on Oceans and Climate for the Next Five YearsDr. Biliana Cicin-Sain, President, Global Ocean Forum, Professor and Director, University of Delaware Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy

Panel 2. Addressing the Effects of Climate Change on Oceans and on Coastal and SIDS Populations: The Scientific Evidence, Scenarios, and Choices for Decisionmakers

Setting the Stage: Addressing the Effects of Climate Change on Oceans and on Coastal and SIDS Populations: The Scientific Evidence, Scenarios, and Scientific Perspectives – Prof. Carol Turley, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK

Climate, Fisheries, and Food Security – Dr. Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Panel 3. Mitigation and the Oceans

Setting the Stage Issues and Prospects for Mitigation Efforts Relevant to the Oceans, Coastal Areas, and SIDS and other Island Jurisdictions – Ms. Dorothee Herr, Manager, Oceans and Climate Change, IUCN

Setting the Stage: Financing for Mitigation, Adaptation, Capacity Development, Scientific Monitoring, and Public Education: Issues and Options – Dr. Brian Murray, Director, Environmental Economics Program, Mr. John Virdin, Director, Ocean & Coastal Policy Program, and Mr. Tibor Vegh, Policy Associate, Ocean & Coastal Policy Program, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University

Panel 4. Adaptation and Financing for Adaptation

Setting the Stage: Issues and Prospects for Adaptation – Dr. Raphael Bille, Secretariat of the Pacific Community

Adaptation Opportunities within the UNFCCC – Mr. Luke Daunivalu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fiji, Member, SIDS, UNFCCC Adaptation Committee

Climate change adaptation in the UK seafood industry – Mr. Angus Garrett, Head of Horizon Scanning & Long Term Issues, Seafish, UK

Panel 5. Capacity Development, Scientific Monitoring, and Public Education

Setting the Stage: Imperatives of Capacity Development, Scientific Monitoring, and Public Education – Mr. Hiroshi Terashima, President, Ocean Policy Research Institute, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan

Enabling Capacity in Scientific Monitoring for Climate Resilence – Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO

Civil Society Initiatives in Enhancing Capacity on Oceans and Climate – Mr. John Tanzer, Director Marine, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) International

Outreach to Global Decision Makers: Some Lessons I have Learned Since the 1992 Earth Summit – Mr. Langston James “Kimo” Goree, Founder and Chief Executive, Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Vice-President, Reporting Services and United Nations Liaison, International Institute for Sustainable Development

Panel 6. Bringing it All Together: A Five-Year Agenda for Action

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