UN calls for urgent action on marine conservation

UNITED NATIONS (Xinhua), June 7 – On Friday, the United Nations celebrated World Oceans Day at its New York headquarters, focusing on opening minds, igniting feelings, and inspiring opportunities for global marine life conservation.

The event included a powerful video which echoed the theme of the day, calling for immediate action to combat the complacency that comes with an “out-of-sight, out-of mind” mentality.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a statement highlighting the oceans’ crucial role in maintaining life on Earth, and the problems that humans have caused.

Guterres said that “climate change is triggering rising waters and threatening to destroy the existence of small island states developing and coastal populations.”

He also spoke about the devastating effects of ocean acidification and the rise in sea temperatures that has led to extreme weather. Overfishing, among other harmful practices, is accelerating the destruction and degradation of marine ecosystems around the world.

The UN’s top official called on governments, businesses and investors to join forces with scientists, communities, and scientists “to protect our oceans”.

Dennis Francis, President of the UN General Assembly attended the event. He shared his concerns regarding the deteriorating state of the oceans.

He stressed the importance of reversing damage caused to this vital resource. “There’s so much to learn about the oceans — but, more importantly, we need to reverse the harm being done to our precious resource.”

Francis, echoing the UN chief, emphasized the importance of redoubling efforts to support ocean action, building capacity in small island states developing, and promoting innovative financing solutions to drive transformation and increase resilience.

Both UN leaders emphasized the ocean’s vital role in combating climate change, calling for a joint effort to “course correct — and recommit to sustainably manage the ocean’s precious resources — so as to ensure their availability intergenerationally.”

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO), also contributed to the discussion earlier in the week, by releasing a State of the Ocean Report, which urges policymakers “to consider the ocean we need for the tomorrow we want.”

The report outlined the growing threats to marine life. It noted that ocean temperatures have doubled over the past 20 years, and that coastal species are dying from low oxygen levels.

The UNESCO report calls for a greater understanding of oceans to maximize resources, improve ocean conservation and sustainability programs, and accelerate behavior change.

Sylvia Earle, a prominent marine biologist, and oceanographer, highlighted during the event the importance of spreading the word about the need for ocean protection around the world, as this can help to catalyze actions that are essential in preserving marine and coastal wildlife.

World Oceans Day, an annual international event that occurs on the 8th of June, is a day celebrated around the world. The UN General Assembly officially recognized the day in December 2008. The theme of World Oceans Day in 2024 is “Awaken New Depths”.

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