World Ocean’s Day, observed on 8 June, underscores the importance of oceans for the cultural life and economic survival of communities around the world while alerting on humankind’s continuing assault on oceans, seas and marine resources.
The ocean covers over 70% of the planet. It is our life source, supporting humanity’s sustenance and that of every other organism on earth. The ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. Not to mention, the ocean is key to our economy. More than three billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, the vast majority in developing countries, but we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished.
Notwithstanding all its benefits, the ocean is now in need of support. The recently issued Second World Ocean Assessment confirmed that many of the benefits that the global ocean provides to humankind are being undermined by our own actions.
“Our seas are choking with plastic waste, which can be found from the remotest atolls to the deepest ocean trenches”, said the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres on his message for World Ocean’s Day. Overfishing is causing an annual loss of almost $90 billion in net benefits and depleting 90% of big fish populations. Half of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed, and carbon emissions are driving ocean warming and acidification, destroying biodiversity and causing sea level rise that threatens heavily inhabited coastlines.
To protect and preserve the ocean and all it sustains, we must create a new balance, rooted in true understanding of the ocean and how humanity relates to it. We must build a connection to the ocean that is inclusive, innovative, and informed by lessons from the past.
“The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods” is the theme for World Oceans Day 2021, as well as a declaration of intentions that launches a decade of challenges to get the Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”, by 2030.
“As we strive to recover from COVID-19, let’s end our war on nature”, urged the UN Chief. “This will be critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, keeping within reach the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement, and ensuring the health of our oceans for today’s and future generations.”
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UN Secretary-General video message