The parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity identified marine and coastal biological diversity as one of the early priority areas for the work of the Convention. This was reflected in the Ministerial Statement on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, issued in conjunction with the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties, in 1995. This statement referred to the new global consensus on the importance of marine and coastal biodiversity, reaffirmed the critical need for the Conference of the Parties in order to address the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity, and urged parties to initiate immediate action to implement the decisions of the Conference of the Parties on this issue. This global consensus became know as the Jakarta Mandate on marine and coastal biological diversity. Subsequently, a program of work on marine and coastal biodiversity was drafted in order to assist the implementation of the Jakarta Mandate. The program focuses on five main thematic issues that reflect global priorities. These thematic issues are the implementation of integrated marine and coastal area management, sustainable use of marine and coastal living resources, marine and coastal protected areas, mariculture, and alien species and genotypes. In addition, several basic principles and approaches are also acknowledged.

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