Environmental Issues > International Issues Main Page > All International Issues Documents > The Rio+20 Earth Summit

Governments, companies, and civil society groups should come to Rio prepared to take tangible steps towards restoring the health of our planet's oceans. Here are a few key steps these leaders need to take (click here for a full list).

Stop plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution, especially from single use-plastics, is a symptom of many of the challenges faced in the broader context of sustainable development. Plastic pollution in rivers, on beaches and in the ocean is not only destructive to marine life, it is a blight to communities world-wide, especially in developing nations that lack access to recycling and waste management facilities. This blight undermines sustainable economic activities such as tourism. Plastic is a useful material with myriad applications, but society must maintain lifecycle responsibility for and reduce consumption of this non-renewable material so that it does not contribute to the degradation of our land, oceans, and human health.



healthy ocean wildlife

Start creating marine parks on the high seas.

Marine parks provide safe havens for fish and wildlife and many countries have established them as a way of rebuilding and restoring ocean life. But there is no legal mechanism to establish marine parks in international waters, which comprise two-thirds of the world's oceans and half the planet's surface.

We call on governments to begin to negotiate a new treaty for the high seas that will enable this and other important conservation tools to benefit the majority of the world's oceans that currently lack them.



ocean acidification video

This groundbreaking NRDC documentary explores the startling phenomenon of ocean acidification, which may soon challenge marine life on a scale not seen for tens of millions of years.
Watch ACID TEST >>

Build a network of scientific monitoring of our oceans that will help us better understand ocean acidification, which poses a major threat to sea life around the world.

Before people started burning coal and oil, ocean pH had been relatively stable for 20 million years. But over the last 250 years, oceans have absorbed 530 billion tons of CO2, triggering a 30 percent increase in ocean acidity. Researchers predict that if carbon emissions continue at their current rate, ocean acidity will more than double by 2100.

We call on governments around the world to commit to establish an international ocean acidification monitoring network.




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