Marine protected areas and other such reserves provide relief to ecosystems under threat. But creating them is a major political challenge, says the New York Times' David Jolly.
Countries have made little progress in meeting their obligations to protect fragile marine ecosystems under the international Convention on Biological Diversity, new United Nations data shows.
Just 1.6 percent of the oceans has been set aside for marine protected areas, according to new data provided to The New York Times by the World Conservation Monitoring Center, part of the United Nations Environment Program. That is far below the 10 percent that nations had agreed to set aside by 2020 at a meeting in Japan in October 2010.
The latest data, while disappointing, could help to shape the debate next month at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro. Ocean conservation will be an important topic at the conference, whose two main themes are "a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” and an “institutional framework for sustainable development".