The project's objective is to assess and address the legal and technical implications of climate change on maritime zones. The primary activities of the project include identifying, analysing and evaluating the natural features that are critical for maritime zones, providing risk treatment options, developing legal options and consulting with stakeholders on management strategies.
For more information:
International Law Commission,
Sea Level Rise in Relation to International Law at https://legal.un.org/ilc/guide/8_9.shtml#govcoms
Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea at https://www.un.org/Depts/los/index.htm
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at https://www.itlos.org/en/top/home
International Court of Justice at https://www.icj-cij.org/en
Jens Kruger, Acting Deputy Director, Oceans and Maritime Programme
Molly Powers -Tora, Team Leader, Ocean Literacy & Capacity
Virginia Rokoua (Ginny) Project Implementation Officer
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the international agreement that establishes a relationship between land and sea. It defines types of natural features and maritime zones they can generate. As recognised in the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape (FPO) which Leaders endorsed in 2010, setting maritime zones under UNCLOS such as the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) enables Pacific Countries to maximise rights over critical resources, such as fisheries. Whilst the settlement of maritime boundaries is an urgent action for the region, UNCLOS does not provide absolute certainty over ocean space in the face of climate change. One of the FPO's recommended strategic priority actions is to "fix baselines and maritime boundaries to ensure the impact of climate change and sea-level rise does not result in reduced jurisdiction of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs)". The land and natural maritime features used in the Pacific Islands to generate maritime zones often consist of low elevation islands, sand cays, rocks and their associated reef systems. The permanence of these types of features and their ability to generate maritime zones are at risk due to climate change. The major hazards or change drivers are sea level, erosion of land, ocean acidification, extreme events, loss of habitat and decreasing biodiversity. The compounding impacts of these hazards may require solutions to preserve these, lead to features to ensure their disappearing or decreasing in their persistence over time in the same location.