United Nations chief warns oceans are 'under threat as never before'

Wednesday, 07 Jun, 2017

The Ocean Conference, the first United Nations conference of its kind, coincides with today's World Environment Day and World Oceans Day on Thursday (June 8th).

The UN Ocean Conference took place at UN headquarters in NY from 5 to 9 June 2017, coinciding with World Oceans Day (8 June).

Specifically, nations will talk about how to meet the 2015 UN-adopted Sustainable Development Goal 14, to "conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources".

Indeed, the Swedish deputy prime minister Isabella Lovin observed that "we know the ocean is broken" and claimed that the oceans were "30 percent more acidic than in pre-industrial times, big predatory fish stocks have declined by up to 90 percent, the surface waters are getting warmer (while) in some areas there are more microplastics than plankton". It is so incredible to be here in NYC supporting World Oceans Week.

"In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight)", the report said. "The effects of climate change are not discriminatory, so please down with your sanctions".

But getting people working to solve environmental issues can take some strategy, especially for one this vast.

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"Human activities have a major impact on the ocean, affecting everything from the viability of marine habitats and the quality and temperature of the water to the health of marine life and the continued availability of seafood", the United Nations organisers said.

With so much on the line with regards to creating more sustainable infrastructures, it is important that we find ways to engage communities and make resources for clean ocean actions accessible.

The Ocean Conference will not only serve as a place to raise awareness of the state of the ocean but call upon global leaders and advocates to generate new dialogues and partnerships aimed at implementing solutions. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) launched a joint publication titled, 'Sea My Life: Protecting Oceans, Sustaining our Future'.

"The veracity of that proposition rests on the fact that SDG14, the Ocean's goal, is humanity's only universally agreed measure to conserve and sustainably manage the resources of the Ocean".

The Ocean Conference, the first United Nations conference of its kind on the issue, is hosted by the Governments of Fiji and Sweden. The targets of SDG 14 outline the areas where progress is needed.

Oceans and seas influence weather and climate, for instance the warming of the ocean surface or above-average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean which lead to intense drought in parts of east and southern Africa, and/or the development of low pressure centres that manifest in tropical cyclones and depressions which bring heavy rainfall to the coast and inland.