From our Executive Secretary...

Protecting the marine environment and securing OSPAR’s vision of a clean, healthy, and biologically diverse North-East Atlantic that is used sustainably has never been more critical. The combined impacts of pollution, over-exploitation and climate change threaten the biodiversity and ecosystems that underpin the provision of food, jobs and enjoyment for millions of people. The only way we can achieve our vision is by working together.

That is why, since 1972, the Contracting Parties to the OSPAR Convention have worked to identify threats to the marine environment and to put in place programmes and measures to ensure effective collective and national action to combat them. In doing so, OSPAR has pioneered ways of monitoring and assessing the environmental status of our seas and set internationally agreed goals and commitments for participating Governments to deliver. Our proven record of success makes the OSPAR Commission a vital mechanism in helping Governments to cooperate in the region and a key partner in further efforts to improve the protection and restoration of the North-East Atlantic.

Why does our work matter?

The North-East Atlantic makes a significant contribution to the economies of the countries that surround it. It is also home to a vast range of marine species and habitats that provide a source of wonder and enjoyment to people from around the world. For these benefits to continue it is essential that the biodiversity, resources and environmental quality of our ocean ecosystem are protected, restored where possible and sustainably managed.

Our work matters because it brings together the 16 Contracting Parties to the OSPAR Convention to help them deliver their national and collective commitments, as set out in OSPAR’s North East Atlantic Environment Strategy. OSPAR also provides a context for coordinated implementation of other regional and international commitments, such as the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Our cross-cutting approach enables us to deliver new and innovative approaches to ocean governance, like our Collective Arrangement, and to monitoring and assessment. As we develop and improve our approaches, we can then share them with other countries, international organisations and Regional Sea Conventions around the globe.

What are the strengths of the OSPAR Commission?

The ocean does not respect national boundaries. OSPAR provides a unique forum for its Contracting Parties, and official Observers, to come together to agree cost-effective actions that help deliver our shared national, regional and global objectives. Our professional Secretariat and small core budget provide leverage to focus resources from Government, industry and civil society towards achieving and maintaining a healthy environment for the North-East Atlantic. Our work is underpinned by sound science, careful monitoring and accurate assessment and every OSPAR measure has its implementation reporting and assessment procedures. By working together, we achieve more and have greater impact than by working alone.

The future

In 2021, OSPAR will launch a new and ambitious North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy at a Ministerial meeting in Portugal. This will set out our objectives for the next decade for protecting the marine environment and tackling existing and emerging pressures.

OSPAR can and should play an important role in helping to deliver the current ambitious international agenda on the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean. Building on decades of monitoring and assessment, scientific knowledge and strong cooperation OSPAR is in a strong position to share its experience and provide leadership in tackling the issues facing the ocean.

I don’t think there could be a more exciting and important time to be taking on the role of Executive Secretary at OSPAR. I very much looking forward to working with our Contracting Parties, our stakeholders and the rest of the Secretariat to deliver OSPAR’s vision.

Dominic Pattinson, Executive Secretary