In this section you can learn about the basics, the assessment mandate, the structure and the drafting process of the report, guide for authors and the assessment organization



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The Regular Process derives from decisions taken by countries at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and from resolutions subsequently passed by the United Nations General Assembly.

The objective for the Regular Process is articulated in UNGA Resolution 57/141, (2005) “to improve understanding of the oceans and to develop a global mechanism for delivering science-based information to decision makers and public”. The Regular Process will serve as the mechanism to keep the world’s oceans and seas under continuing review by providing regular assessments at global and supra-regional levels. It will:

  • support informed decision making by enabling governments and other stakeholders to draw on the best scientific information available
  • focus on a fully integrated view of environmental, economic and social aspects
  • draw, as far as possible, upon assessments made at global and supra-regional levels, at the regional level and, where appropriate, at the national level.
  • be underpinned by consistent analytical frameworks and data standards, and will deliver products to communicate effectively to policy-makers.
  • build institutional and individual assessment capacity and promote necessary research.
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The Drivers-Pressures-State-Impacts-Response (DPSIR) framework (Fig. 1) suggests at least three possible approaches for structuring the Assessment: 1) Pressures; 2) Habitats; and 3) Ecosystem Services.

Using pressures as headings for chapters in the report has the advantage that the associated human activities are commonly linked with data collection and reporting structures for regulatory compliance purposes. For instance, permits that are issued for offshore oil and gas development require specific monitoring and reporting obligations be met by operators.

Using marine habitats as chapter headings has the advantage that “habitat” is the property that inherently integrates many ecosystem features, including higher and lower trophic level species, water quality, oceanographic conditions and many types of anthropogenic pressures (1). The cumulative aspect of multiple pressures affecting the same habitat, that is often lost in sector-based environmental reporting (2), is captured by using Habitats as reporting units.

Using ecosystem services as chapter headings follows the approach of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (3). This has the advantage of broad acceptance in environmental reporting (3). It includes provisioning services (food, construction materials, renewable energy, coastal protection) while highlighting regulating services and quality-of-life services that are not captured using a pressures or habitats approach to structuring the Assessment.

Given that all three approaches have their own particular advantages, the Group of Experts proposed that a combination of all three approaches be included to thereby structure the Assessment into seven broad parts:

  1. Summary for decision-makers
  2. The Context of the Assessment
  3. Ecosystem Services
  4. Cross-cutting issue – food security
  5. Other human activities
  6. Biodiversity and habitats
  7. Overall evaluations
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The DPSIR represents a systems analysis view - social and economic developments exert pressure on the environment and, as a consequence, the state of the environment changes. This leads to impacts on e.g. human health, ecosystems and materials that may elicit a societal response that feeds back on the driving forces, on the pressures or on the state or impacts directly, through adaptation or curative action.

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The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment will be carried out by the Group of Experts (under the supervision of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole) with assistance from a Pool of Experts nominated by member states. Members of the Pool of Experts will have various roles, including Lead Drafters for working papers, Lead Drafters for chapter sections and Consultors who will provide feedback on drafts of working papers and chapters.

The types of expertise needed within the Pool of Experts include all aspects of marine industry and marine science (eg. ports, shipping, oil and gas, economics, biology, geology, oceanography etc.). A key point is that the report will make use of (and be fundamentally based upon) existing marine assessments (1) the results of major international marine programs such as IPCC and the Census of Marine Life (4) and the outputs of agencies like the UN Fisheries and Agriculture Organisation (5).

The draft assessment will be sent to peer reviewers who will be nominated by states and appointed by the AHWGW. States will also review the draft assessment and provide feedback. A final draft of the assessment will then be produced taking on board all comments from reviewers and governments.

Multiplying the types of experts required by the number of different geographic regions on earth, plus the number of chapters, plus the different roles required (Lead Drafters, Consultors, etc.) suggests that the membership of the Pool of Experts is likely to number around 1,000 individuals. Drafting the First Global Integrated Marine Assessment is a major undertaking that will require the full cooperation and participation of the world’s community of marine experts to be successful. The timeline for the production of the Assessment calls for the establishment of the Pool of Experts by April 2012 and for the final report to be submitted to the AHWGW by the end of 2014.

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Guidance for authors contributing to the Regular Process is outlined in Annex B paragraph 212 of General Assembly resolution 65/37, December 2010.

This document sets out the working arrangements for contributors to the first integrated assessment under the Regular Process. It is intended as a guide for members of the Group of Experts and of the Pool of Experts acting as lead drafters, consultors, editors and peer reviewers. It applies also to organizations that agree to undertake the functions of lead drafter for issues within their competence. There are also sections in the guidelines on: the context of the Regular Process; editorial procedures; identifying existing assessments; working papers and draft chapters; regions of the world included in the report; the peer-review process; characterizing and communicating risk and uncertainty; handling the full range of views; and ethics in authoring and evaluating

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The administrative arrangements for the Regular Process are illustrated in this figure. Overall direction derives from the United Nations General Assembly, which has created an Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole (AHWGW) to oversee the Regular Process. The creation of a Bureau that would make decisions on behalf of the AHWGW between its annual meetings is presently under discussion.

Text boxes – insert pop-up information for each of the acronyms shown in the above diagram as follows: DOALOS The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs (DOALOS) provides secretariat support to the Regular ProcessIOC/UNESCO – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs (DOALOS) provides secretariat support to the Regular Process/
IOC/UNESCO – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
United Nations Environment Program
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Maritime Organization FAO
International Seabed Authority IHO
International Hydrographic Organisation
World Meteorological Organisation
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  1. UNEP, IOC-UNESCO, 2009. An Assessment of Assessments, findings of the Group of Experts. Start-up phase of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment including Socio-economic aspects. UNEP and IOC/UNESCO, Malta.
  2. Halpern, B. S., Walbridge, S., Selkoe, K. A., Kappel, C. V., Micheli, F., D’Agrosa, C., Bruno, J. F., Casey, K. S., Ebert, C., Fox, H. E., Fujita, R., Heinemann, D., Lenihan, H. S., Madin, E. M. P., Perry, M. T., Selig, E. R., Spalding, M., Steneck, R. and Watson, R. (2008) A Global Map of Human Impact on Marine Ecosystems. Science. 319, 948 – 952
  3. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC., 155 p.
  4. Ausubel, J.H., Crist, D.T., Waggoner, P.E. (Eds.), 2010. First census of marine life 2010: highlights of a decade of discovery. Census of Marine Life, Washington DC.
  5. FAO, 2008. Report of the FAO Workshop on Vulnerable Ecosystems and Destructive Fishing in Deep-sea Fisheries. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, p. 18.
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Is the wealth generated by marine industries increasing or

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