From rising seas to ocean acidification and plastic pollution, our planet is (also) facing an “ocean emergency”. This immediately follows from the first day of the United Nations Ocean Conference.
The conference, whose motto this year is “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” and which is being held in Lisbon until Friday July 1, is an international meeting organized by the governments of Kenya and Portugal. . Its goal is to develop ways to use science and innovation to protect the world’s oceans.
The ocean connects us all, but because we place no value on the ocean, today we face an “ocean emergency” and the tide must be turned. Our failure to take care of the oceans will have cascading effects throughout the 2030 Agenda, which is why United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has underlined the urgency of addressing the emergency ocean to reverse the trend.
Already at the Carcavelos Youth and Innovation Forum, Guterres publicly apologized on behalf of his generation for the state in which the seas have left young people and the climate problem. An inaction, by the way, which seriously endangers our health and that of the environment.
At the first UN Ocean Conference, held five years ago in New York, delegates called for reversing the decline in ocean health, and according to Guterres:
Since then, progress has been made, with the negotiation of new treaties to tackle the global plastic waste crisis choking the oceans and scientific advances in line with the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021 -2030). But let’s not go too far in our hopes. We need to do much more together.
What to do to save the oceans?
The UN chief makes 4 main recommendations:
Invest in sustainable ocean economies for food, renewable energy and livelihoods, with long-term finance.
Sustainable management of the oceans can help them produce up to 6 times more food and generate 40 times more renewable energy than they do today, the UN secretary-general has said.
Replicate Ocean Success
The ocean must become a model of how we can manage the global commons for our greatest good, which means preventing and reducing marine pollution of all kinds, land and sea. To achieve this, effective conservation measures based on marine protected areas and integrated coastal zone management must be intensified.
António Guterres calls for greater protection of the oceans and the people whose lives and livelihoods depend on them, by tackling climate change and investing in coastal infrastructure.
Shipping must commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and present credible plans to meet these commitments. And we need to invest more in restoring and conserving coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, salt marshes and coral reefs.
António Guterres then invited all UN Member States to participate in the “early warning system”, a recently launched initiative to achieve the goal of full coverage of the early warning system in the next 5 years.
More science and innovation
This will help us open a new chapter in global ocean action.
I call on everyone to adhere to the goal of mapping 80% of the seabed by 2030 – concludes Guterres. I encourage the private sector to participate in associations that support research and sustainable management of the oceans. And I urge governments to increase their level of ambition to restore ocean health.
To access the conference: https://www.un.org/es/conferences/ocean2022