• What is the overall state of the world’s oceans and seas?
  • Are marine ecosystems around the world improving or declining?
  • What benefits do we get from the world’s oceans and seas, and how are they distributed?
  • How can we measure the state of the oceans and seas?  And what threatens them?

Oceans and seas cover over 7/10ths of our planet.  To help provide a sound, scientific basis for decisions at the global level on the world’s oceans and seas, and a framework for national and regional assessments and management decisions, the United Nations General Assembly set up in 2004 a regular process to review the environmental, economic and social aspects world’s oceans and seas – the three pillars of sustainable development.  This is the “Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects”.  The first output of the Regular Process was the first global integrated assessment of the marine environment – World Ocean Assessment I.  The Summary of this was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2015.

The United Nations General Assembly entrusted oversight and guidance of the Regular Process to an Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole, comprising representatives of Member States.  Intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations with consultative status with ECOSOC may also take part in meetings.

A Group of Experts of the Regular Process of up to 25 members, representing all regions of the world, was set up to carry out the World Ocean Assessments.  The Group of Experts has been assisted by the several hundred members of a Pool of Experts nominated by States, through the regional groups of the UN General Assembly.  The Pool of Experts has provided expertise in the wide range of areas and subjects needed for the World Ocean Assessment.