IMO WMU Conference Proceedings - Protecting the Ocean: Moving Forward at 50: London Convention/Protocol and Stockholm Declaration

On 4 October, the World Maritime University - Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute (WMU-GOI) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) launched the “Protecting the Ocean - Moving Forward at 50: London Convention/Protocol and Stockholm Declaration, Fiftieth Anniversary Proceedings” during the 45th Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties (London Convention 1972) and the 18th Meeting of Contracting Parties (London Protocol 1996) at the IMO Headquarters in London.

The conference proceedings are based on the joint IMO WMU International Academic Conference held from 10 to 13 October 2022, in Malmö, Sweden at WMU and online. The proceedings underscore the findings from the conference and map out fifty years of ocean protection under the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment (Stockholm Declaration) and the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other matter (London Convention) and the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other matter, 1972 (London Protocol) while showing how they have shaped normative achievements in international environmental law. 

Professor Ronán Long, Director of the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, welcomed the distinguished delegates to the ceremony. He highlighted that the genesis of the London Convention/Protocol can be traced from the very beginning of the law of the sea and the protection of the marine environment and the consolidation of the international environmental law, respectively. He stressed the importance of reflecting on the lessons learned in the last 50 years, whilst addressing emerging environmental issues. In this regard, Professor Long noted important topics addressed during the conference such as science and technology, the impact of international institutions and actors, regional approaches, jurisdiction and liability issues and contemporary challenges such as climate change, the BBNJ process, the plastic treaty process and maritime robotics and autonomous systems.

On behalf of the IMO, Mr Fredrik Haag, Head of the Office for the London Convention/Protocol (LC/LP) and Ocean Affairs, addressed the gathering with IMO’s perspective on the London Convention/Protocol and the Stockholm Declaration. He noted that the London Convention and the Stockholm Declaration have been the foundation on which many of the legal frameworks that govern the oceans today have been built. This includes the adoption of the 1996 Protocol reflecting how the Convention developed over more than 20 years. Referring to the 2022 Conference, Mr Haag highlighted the importance of the presence and engagements of the WMU students at that event, since they will be the future maritime and ocean leaders responsible for bringing these topics to their national maritime administration and implementing the measures learned from 50 years of history, experiences, and development under the LC/LP and the Stockholm Declaration.

To officially launch the conference proceedings, on behalf of WMU President Professor Maximo Q. Mejia Jr., Professor Daniel Seong-Hyeok Moon, Head of Port Management and Director of the PhD Programme, delivered keynote remarks highlighting the essential role of the oceans as a means to effectively address and combat the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. He underscored the lessons learned through the Stockholm Declaration and the London Convention/Protocol over the past fifty years, such as achievements, inconveniences, and emerging challenges to be addressed.

The conference proceedings are available to the international community and can be accessed through the WMU Maritime Commons page at: https://commons.wmu.se/lib_papers/12/ 

To access an album of photos from the event, click here. 

More about the Stockholm Declaration, London Convention/Protocol, and Onwards

The Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment (Stockholm Declaration), which contained 26 principles, placed environmental problems at the forefront of international concerns. It marked the start of a dialogue between industrialized and developing countries on the link between economic growth, the pollution of the air, water, oceans, and the well-being of people around the world. The 1972 Conference also adopted an Action Plan for the Human Environment, containing 109 recommendations for action at the international level.  Recommendation 86(c) called for an international regime to regulate dumping, and the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other matter (London Convention) was duly concluded in the same year. The London Convention is the first binding international agreement to prevent illegal dumping in all marine areas outside internal waters. It is strengthened by the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other matter, 1972 (London Protocol) bringing in the precautionary approach to regulating dumping. Effectively, all dumping of waste at sea is prohibited except for those on a ‘reserve list’. It is anticipated that the London Protocol will replace the London Convention over time. 

Since then, the development of modern international environmental law has been one of the more remarkable exercises in contemporary international law-making. This includes the comprehensive framework for marine environmental protection articulated in Part XII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, Rio Declaration of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 2015 Paris Agreement, and the much anticipated global treaty on plastic pollution.

About the IMO WMU International Academic Conference

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the WMU – Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute (GOI), and The Nippon Foundation were the primary co-sponsors of the IMO-WMU Joint International Academic Conference: Protecting the Ocean - Moving forward at 50: London Convention & Stockholm Declaration that included topical papers focused on the 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention) and the 1972 Declaration of the United Nations Conference on Human Environment (Stockholm Declaration), as well as invaluable perspectives from distinguished expert commentators from Government Ministries, UN Agencies and Programmes, International and Regional Organizations, Academic Institutions and Civil Society. 

About the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

The WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute (GOI) is an independent focal point for the ocean science-policy-law-industry-society interface where policymakers, the scientific community, regulators, industry actors, academics, and representatives of civil society meet to discuss how best to manage and use ocean spaces and their resources in accordance with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Institute was inaugurated in May 2018 and made possible through generous support from The Nippon Foundation of Japan, the Governments of Sweden, Canada, and Germany, as well as the City of Malmö. 

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