Recent years have seen a gradual and continuous integration of the ocean into the climate institutional landscape. This Issue Brief, along with the supporting Note, aims to assess the efforts made in recent years to integrate the ocean into the climate regime, and to identify ways of stepping up action.

IDDRI acknowledges the Oceano Azul Foundation for the initiative to develop this Issue brief, and its supporting Note, and for its financial support. These documents are of the full responsibility of the co-authors above identified and their organizations. Their content will be discussed in dedicated meetings and workshops over the coming months, and a final version will be published by the end of 2024.

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Key Messages

  • In terms of integration of marine issues, analysis shows that (i) NDCs vary considerably from one to another; (ii) commitments frequently lack precision, lacking quantified objectives and failing to reference the means allocated for implementation; (iii) the mitigation measures proposed do not sufficiently exploit the ocean’s potential. While Parties are now beginning to review and update their NDCs, due nine to twelve months ahead of COP30 (November 2025, Brazil), it is crucial to correct the course.
  • The Ocean and Climate Dialogue has become the main entry point for fostering international cooperation to support the integration of ocean-based action for both mitigation and adaptation purposes. However, it is regarded by many as more of a stakeholders’ workshop, with limited attendance of delegates. It is therefore necessary to make it more attractive for climate negotiators.
  • Initiated at COP21 in 2015, the “agenda-setting” process, aimed at integrating the ocean into the UNFCCC regime, was finalized in 2021 with the COP26 Glasgow Pact. The 2023 Global Stocktake has ushered in a new phase, and there are several options for States to further anchoring the ocean into UNFCCC agenda items.
  • Since COP21 in particular, civil society has played a pivotal role in supporting States to integrate the ocean into the climate regime. Following the Global Stocktake that encouraged increased collaboration between Parties and non-Party stakeholders, it is imperative to support the active engagement of non-State actors and foster their contribution to the Paris Agreement goals.
  • A solely climate-focused approach, aimed at maximizing the mitigation capabilities of marine ecosystems, risks overlooking crucial safeguards necessary for protecting their biological diversity. Therefore, ocean-based carbon dioxide removal projects must be considered in light of the precautionary principle.
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