Thursday, June 17, 2021
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‘Simply No Scenario’ Where Humanity Can Survive On An Ocean-free Planet


The world must harness “clear, transformative
and actionable solutions” to address the ocean crisis, the
President of the UN General Assembly said on Tuesday,
opening a meeting to generate momentum towards the 2022
UN
Ocean Conference
, when public health
safety measures allow.

“Simply speaking,
our relationship with our planet’s ocean must change”,
Assembly President Volkan
Bozkir
told ahigh-level thematic debate on the ocean
and Sustainable
Development Goal 14 (SDG14): Life Below
Water
.

Against the backdrop that human activities
have threatened to undo the delicate balance of this
ecosystem, that supports nutritional, economic and social
value to billions the world over, he upheld that there is
“simply no scenario” wherein we live on a planet without
an ocean.

Appetite for change

People do not
want to live in “a world of one crisis after the next”,
Mr. Bozkir said, preferring instead the “security,
sustainability and the peace of mind” that comes with a
healthy planet.

Policy makers too are increasingly
aware of how a healthy ocean is integral to a strong
economy.

“We have seen this in countries and cities
that have prioritized coastal and marine areas over
tourism…in protected wetlands…in efforts to address
illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and regulate
shipping and resource extraction”, he said.

‘Blue
recovery’

New governance, policy and market
approaches that incentivize both profit ability and
sustainability – for people and planet – provide an
opportunity for a “blue recovery” to build resilience,
particularly in small island developing States, upheld the
Assembly President.

“Building a sustainable ocean
economy is one of the most important tasks and greatest
opportunities of our time”, he spelled out, urging
governments, industries, civil society and others to “join
forces to develop and implement ocean solutions”.

As
the SDG14 targets will be among the first to mature, Mr.
Bozkir encouraged everyone to “think ahead” and arrive
at the second Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, with
“demonstrable evidence of progress”.

Rather than
wait until the Conference opens to re-discuss these issues,
he reminded that the Decade of
Ocean Science for Sustainable Development
has already
begun.

“Let us choose to arrive in Portugal with
accomplishments and progress that inspire hope and optimism
for a better tomorrow”, he concluded.

Blue economy
‘bedrock’

Peter Thomson, Special Envoy on Oceans,
emphasized the need to improve our relationship with the sea
to one of respect and balance.

He underscored the
importance of delivering on SDG14, saying that “ocean
acidification cannot continue unabated” while pointing out
that greenhouse gas emission reductions are “required to
meet 2030 goals”.

And while spotlighting progress
that is being made on ocean awareness, marine protected area
coverage and ocean science, Mr. Thomson highlighted the
urgent need to scale up.

“At the heart of SDG14 is
the sustainable blue economy”, Mr. Thomson said, “from
nutrition to medicine, from energy to carbon sequestration
and pollution-free transportation, the sustainable blue
economy is the bedrock of upon which a secure future for
humanity can be build.

‘No silver
bullet’

In a world dependent on plastic, the UN
official said that there was “no silver bullet for the
plague of marine plastic pollution”.

However, he
advocated measures to battle the scourge, including by
“exponentially” increasing funding for developing
countries to invest in waste collection and disposal
infrastructure as well as widely implementing systems of
reduction, recycling and plastic substitution.

He
concluded by highlighting the interconnectivity of the
world, calling it “the fundamental lesson of the COVID-19
pandemic”.

“We are connected within nature’s
nurturing embrace”, he said, upholding that if we poison
nature, we are in effect “poisoning
ourselves”.

Engaging with the ocean

From
Portugal, Ricardo Serrão Santos, Minister of the Sea, also
spoke about the importance of ocean health for human and
planetary well-being, pointing to the 2022 goal of “a more
inclusive and more connected” engagement with the
ocean.

“We are gathered here today to rekindle the
tone of the Conference” next year, he said, elaborating on
the need to “scale up ocean action…increasing and
improving coordination at all levels…financing and
continued monitoring”.

Mr. Serrão Santos underlined
Portugal’s support for science, as being “critical to
cross-cutting in every ocean action”.

Seeking
sustainable recovery

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for
Foreign Affairs, Raychelle Omamo, drew attention to the
impact of COVID-19, not only in delaying the Conference but
also the havoc it has wreaked on jobs in coastal economies
an on vulnerable coastal communities.

“We seek a
recovery that will promote sustainable development and
harmony between people and the natural resources that
sustain us”, she
said.

© Scoop Media

 



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