UN set to open a summit aimed at reversing decline in oceans’ health

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UNITED NATIONS, June 3 (APP): Warming oceans, depleting sea
life and plastic pollution are on the agenda for next week’s ocean
summit at the United Nations, which will call for urgent action to
improve the health of the oceans, while also creating jobs and
raising people out of poverty.
“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 UN
organizers said about the event being held June 5 to 9.
The Ocean Conference, the first ever such summit convened
by the UN, will focus on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda
for Sustainable Development, adopted by Governments in 2015.
In particular among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),
Goal 14 highlights the need to conserve and sustainably use oceans,
seas and marine resources to benefit present and future generations.
“Ocean deterioration has broader implications as it affects
poverty eradication, economic growth, sustainable livelihoods and employment, global food security, human health and climate
regulation,” the organizers said.
Thousands of people are expected to attend – including heads of
State and Government, civil society representatives, business people,
as well as actors, and ocean and marine life advocates.
A big showing is expected from small island developing
States, particularly from the Pacific Islands, and from African
coastal States, which are on the frontlines of climate change and
whose economies are particularly vulnerable to changes in the
oceans and marine life.
The current President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson,
said he is ‘very confident’ that there is an appetite to take action
to aid oceans and marine life.
Thomson, whose home country, Fiji, is co-hosting the Conference
along with Sweden, said people had been ‘selfish’ about their
children’s and grandchildren’s future – but now are more cognizant
of the need to sustainably use natural resources.
“Every second breathe you take comes from ocean-produced oxygen.
Without a healthy ocean we’re in deep trouble; whether it’s food,
whether it’s our climate, we have to have the integrity for the
ocean, the source of life,” Thomson told journalists yesterday in
New York.
The main areas of work at The Ocean Conference will be a
political call to action, a segment on partnership dialogues and
voluntary commitments.
Secretary-General of The Ocean Conference, Wu Hongbo, who is
also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social
Affairs, said Member States have already hammered out the final
text of the conference – which will include 22 specific actions
to be taken.
He noted that climate change action taken by the international
community is unstoppable, and needs global support: “If you drop
a plastic bottle anywhere near your sea, it may end up in some
other places. So all these seas and oceans are connected; so
regional or individual action seems very weak. We need global
solutions to the global challenge.”
On the eve of the Conference, New York City, which has about
520 miles of coastline, will host the inaugural World Ocean
Festival.
New York’s festival will feature a first-of-its kind grand
‘ocean march,’ which will be a parade of sailing vessels around
lower Manhattan and along 10 nautical miles of Manhattan and
Brooklyn waterfront from the Hudson to the East River.
The second main event will be the Ocean Village, which will
be set up at Gentry State Park in Long Island City as a – hub
for all things ocean,- and will celebrate art, innovation
and exhibits on ocean and climate action.