The annual commemoration of June 8 recalls the important role the oceans play in everyday life as “the lungs of our planet” and as a source of food and medicine.
I had the privilege of growing up near the ocean.
It pains me to see how overfishing, pollution and rising temperatures are destroying our oceans and biodiversity.
– Antonio Guterres (@antonioguterres) June 8, 2021
Although this year’s theme focuses on their importance for the cultural and economic survival of communities around the world, the Secretary General cited a recent report which confirmed that many of the benefits provided by the oceans have been undermined by human activity.
Pollution, overfishing, acidification
“Our seas are choked with plastic waste, which can be found from the most remote atolls to the deepest ocean trenches,” he said. She said.
But the list doesn’t end there. “Overfishing is causing an annual loss of nearly $ 90 billion in net benefits, which also increases the vulnerability of women, who are vital to the survival of small fishing businesses,” she added.
“Carbon emissions are driving ocean warming and acidification, destroying biodiversity and causing sea level rise that threatens heavily populated coasts.”
Link to sustainable development
With over three billion people around the world, mostly in developing countries, who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, he called for action.
“As we strive to recover from COVID-19, we are putting an end to our war against nature,” Guterres said.
Decade of action
As part of the celebrations of World Oceans Day, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the selection of a first set of actions to guide what it calls the “Revolution of oceanic knowledge”.
Led by different partners from science, government, civil society and other sectors, they fall under the United Nations decade of ocean science for sustainable development which will last until 2030.
“From the restoration of the Great Barrier Reef to 100% high-resolution ocean floor mapping, these innovative programs and contributions form the first series of Ocean Decade actions that will help deliver the ocean we want by 2030,” said Audrey Azoulay , the director general of UNESCO.
Exploration and innovation
The main Ocean Decade actions were selected from hundreds of applications submitted to the agency’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the United Nations entity that supports global ocean science and services.
They include initiatives to expand deep-sea research and exploration of the ocean’s “twilight zone”. Little is known about this layer, which extends from 200 to 1,000 meters (about 650 to 3,300 feet).
Other actions focus on developing knowledge and solutions to reduce the multiple pressures on marine ecosystems, including climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, as well as measures to improve the sustainable management of fish stocks.
“The hundreds of responses to the Ocean Decade’s first Call for Decade Actions show the success and tremendous interest around this global movement,” said Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC executive secretary.
“Initial actions are only the first building blocks of the decade: there will be many opportunities for involvement.”