UN Ocean Conference is a key step on the road to recovering ocean health

A northern gannet entangled in a green fishing net in the UK waters of the North Sea (Image: © Marten van Dijl / Greenpeace)

With every breath we take, we are connected to the ocean. The planet-defining blue covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, providing half of its oxygen, stabilising our global climate and weather system, and providing food and livelihoods for billions of people.

A healthy ocean is critical to all life on Earth, and yet through humankind’s witting and unwitting activities, the ocean’s health is measurably in decline.

Overfishing continues to deplete precious marine resources and jeopardise sustainable, smaller-scale fisheries. Excess anthropogenic carbon emissions are warming the ocean, causing the death of coral, raising sea levels and making the ocean more acidic, weakening its ability to sustain life. Plastic and chemical pollution are permeating the ocean, putting many marine species in trouble.

There can be no healthy planet without a healthy ocean. The positive news is that – on our watch – we can take the necessary steps to stop the decline of the ocean’s health. In 2022, we have important opportunities to take bold, meaningful action to put our ocean onto a path of recovery. Solutions exist to restore the health of the ocean, but they will require action from each one of us, from every sector of industry and all parts of society, from world leaders to CEOs, and from scientists to citizens.

Next up on the global agenda, we have the UN Ocean Conference, co-hosted by the governments of Kenya and Portugal, in Lisbon, from 27 June to 1 July. The conference is held in support of SDG14, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to conserve and sustainably use the ocean’s resources. It is my firm belief that SDG14 and the continued development of a sustainable blue economy around the world are crucial for humanity’s future on this planet.

I am confident we will see the launching in Lisbon of a great fleet of innovative, science-based solutions. These solutions will be carried forward in well-funded partnerships, that will propel the effective implementation of SDG14. I am urging every attendee to bring the best of their ideas and resources to Lisbon. We need all hands on deck.

The UN Ocean Conference will be focussing on the major challenges and opportunities faced by the ocean today. The programme features plenary meetings, a suite of interactive dialogues, and a rich series of side events complementing the main programme. Sessions will cover topics ranging from strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies, to addressing ocean acidification, deoxygenation and warming; and from making fisheries sustainable, and fair for small-scale artisanal fishers, to conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems.

Peter Thomson, China Dialogue Ocean, 24 June 2022. Article.

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OA-ICC Highlights