Call for United Action to Reverse Ocean Damage

Fishermen at work in Evia, Greece (File Photo)Fishermen at work in Evia, Greece (File Photo)

Opening a “game-changing” international conference on the health of the world’s oceans and seas, top United Nations officials on Monday urged coordinated global action to protect the planet.

Speaking in the UN General Assembly Hall, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cautioned governments that unless they overcome short-term territorial and resource interests, the state of the oceans will continue to deteriorate, UN News Center reported.

“Improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism and we cannot afford to fail,” the secretary-general said, addressing his first major UN conference since taking on his post.

“We must jointly address the problems of governance that have held us back,” he said, calling for a new strategic vision of how to govern the oceans and marine resources.

One of the main challenges, he said, is to end “the artificial dichotomy” between jobs and healthy oceans: “The conservation and sustainable use of marine resources are two sides of the same coin.”

He called for strong political leadership and new partnerships, based on the existing legal framework, and concrete steps, such as expanding marine protected areas and reducing plastic waste pollution.

Among other specific actions, Guterres urged governments to allocate the promised funding for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, as well as improving data collection and sharing their best experiences.

These works are supported by the UN which, among its work, is building partnerships with governments, the private sector, civil society and others, and working with international financial institutions to allocate resources.


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