The annual commemoration on 8 June is a reminder of the major role oceans have in everyday life as “the lungs of our Planet” and as a source of food and medicine.
I had the privilege of growing up near the ocean.
It pains me to see how overfishing, pollution and rising temperatures are destroying our oceans and biodiversity.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) June 8, 2021
Although this year’s theme focuses on their importance for the cultural and economic survival of communities worldwide, the Secretary-General cited a recent report which confirmed that many of the benefits oceans provide are being undermined by human activity.
Pollution, overfishing, acidification
“Our seas are choking with plastic waste, which can be found from the remotest atolls to the deepest ocean trenches”, he said.
But the list does not end there. “Overfishing is causing an annual loss of almost $90 billion in net benefits – which also heightens the vulnerability of women, who are vital to the survival of small-scale fishing businesses”, he added.
“Carbon emissions are driving ocean warming and acidification, destroying biodiversity and causing sea level rise that threatens heavily inhabited coastlines.”
Sustainable Development link
World Oceans Day falls as countries continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and the ongoing assault on oceans, seas and marine resources, the Secretary-General said.
With more than three billion people worldwide, mainly in developing countries, relying on the ocean for their livelihood, he called for action.
“As we strive to recover from COVID-19, let’s end our war on nature”, Mr. Guterres said.
“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.”