Oceans 'under threat as never before,' United Nations chief Guterres warns

A surge in the number of voluntary commitments to take action to improve the health of the ocean has been recorded, and more are expected as the Ocean Conference gets underway on Monday, 5 June at United Nations Headquarter in NY.

The aim is to find solutions to some of the toughest problems facing the oceans - that includes coral bleaching, plastic pollution, overfishing and rising sea levels.

"We must jointly address the problems of governance that have held us back", he said, calling for a new strategic vision on how to govern oceans and marine resources.

"Improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism, and we can not afford to fail", the secretary-general said.

"We will follow-up with diligence on the commitments made here at The Ocean Conference; all along, holding ourselves responsible to bequeath a conserved and sustainably managed Ocean to the stewards of the future", said President Thomson.

According to a recent study, the volume of plastic waste in our oceans may surpass that of fish by 2050 if nothing is done.

The Ocean Conference focuses on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Governments in 2015. "The conservation and sustainable use of marine resources are two sides of the same coin", he noted. "We must put aside short-term national gain to prevent long-term global catastrophe", he said while addressing his first major United Nations conference since taking on his post.

"Human activities are having major impacts on the ocean, affecting everything from the viability of marine habitats to the quality and temperature of the water, the health of marine life, and the continued availability of seafood", the United Nations organizers said about the event being held 5 to 9 June.

Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, is leading a Canadian delegation to the first ever UN Ocean Conference.

"This work will help to make our oceans healthy, protect the livelihoods and economic activity that our oceans support, and end poverty", says Andrew Hudson, Head, Water and Ocean Governance Programme, UNDP.

"While some may continue to deny man's culpability for the damaging effects of climate change on islands and islanders.no man, no island, no village and no nation can deny that trash in our oceans is of man's own doing [and] man must clean up his mess", he said.

Morocco was elected vice-chairman of the United Nations Oceans Conference convening in NY to look into ways of conserving and sustainably using oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

This will mean addressing the developmental objectives of reducing marine pollution; managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems; increasing scientific knowledge; and minimising and addressing ocean acidification.

  • Joe Gonzales