Bonn, 20 March 2009 – CMS Executive
Secretary, Robert Hepworth spoke at the Blue Vision Summit
in Washington D.C., USA, where over 400 ocean and coastal
leaders came together under a shared common belief that,
even amidst today’s financial and fossil-fuel fired
meltdowns, the time is right and critical for solving the
cascading environmental threats to our public seas. Mr.
Hepworth addressed participants on the renewed international
outlook for US leadership in marine conservation and called
for more multilateral cooperation, while noting the positive
increased engagement of the United States.
Turning to the main theme of his address, he highlighted
the opportunity that the United States faces in using the
existing architecture for international marine conservation
to meet its current ocean preservation challenges. CMS’
regional seas agreements provide the most effective and
main conservation tool for international collaboration.
Currently, there are 13 regional seas agreements focused
on marine species including turtles, cetaceans, seals, dugongs,
albatrosses and other seabirds.
Echoing Dr. Roger Payne, the Summit’s keynote speaker,
Mr. Hepworth emphasized that “the chance to make a
giant change has never been better than at this moment.”
He also informed the summit of the successful outcome of
the UNEP Governing Council and welcomed the increase in
the Programme’s biennial budget, and the engagement
of the USA, which had been instrumental in pressing for
agreement on new, binding measures to combat mercury pollution.
Mr. Hepworth went on to describe in greater detail the
activities undertaken within the framework of CMS in the
marine environment. He highlighted CMS’ commitment
to the state of species in the ocean and noted that the
three priority agreements in the coming years all focus
on marine species. He also described the United States’
increased participation in recent times. The U.S. became
a party to IOSEA in 2001. In September 2008, President Bush
urged the US Senate to sign ACAP. In addition, the US government
is fully supportive and engaged in 2 more marine species
agreements currently being developed.
The summit also presented the opportunity to meet leading
members of the new Congress, including Representative Sam
Farr of California, who sponsored the “Oceans Conservation,
Education, and National Strategy for the 21st Century Act”,
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a member of
the Environment and Public Works Committee and Representative
Madeleine Z. Bordallo of Guam, who serves on the House Natural
Mr. Hepworth was one of the podium speakers alongside Biliana
Cicin-Sain, head of the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts,
and Islands; Carl Gustaf Lundin, chief of IUCN’s gobal
marine programme; and Indumathie Hewawasam, The Nature Conservancy’s
Senior Policy Adviser. Other speakers at the summit included
the environment and consumer champion and former Presidential
candidate, Ralph Nader; the head of the White House Council
on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley; and third-generation
marine conservationist, Philippe Cousteau.