World Oceans Day theme (2015-2016): “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet.”




The United Nations celebrates World Oceans Day every year on June 8. As part of the celebrations, the Office of Legal Affairs, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea organizes several events and hosts a reception at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, where the Secretary-General’s Annual World Oceans Day Message is delivered and the winners of the Annual World Oceans Day Oceanic Photo Competition are announced. Each year on the evening of World Oceans Day, the Empire State Building is lit in the World Oceans Day colours of white, blue and purple, representing the different layers of the ocean.


The following activities are planned to celebrate World Oceans Day 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters:



Wednesday,  8 June 2016


10am to 1:30pm

“He Lei Holo Puni Honua: Presentation of Declarations Ceremony & Sail of Friendship,” hosted by the Polynesian Voyaging Society  (due to space limitations,  this event is by invitation only).

This World Oceans Day, the traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe from the Pacific, Hōkūle‘a, will arrive at the United Nations for the first time in history.  This is a rare moment to share how the oceans unite us and to hear first-hand stories of the state of the ocean and of coastal people shared by these courageous voyagers.  A traditional Hawaiian ceremony will be held dockside and onboard during which the Secretary-General or his designate will be presented with a set of declarations gathered by the crew, which has been sailing across our oceans to support the global movement toward a more sustainable world. This will be followed by a sail of the Hōkūle‘a on the East River. For more information please visit:


Location: Gantry Park, Long Island City, Queens

4pm to 6pm

“Voyaging to a Sustainable Planet: A Talk Story Uniting Leadership on Oceans,” hosted by the Republic of Palau and Federated States of Micronesia (due to space limitations, this event is by invitation only).

Please join Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia alongside Nainoa Thompson, Master Navigator of the Hōkūle‘a’s Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage at this unique event. This event will share important perspectives on the intersect with the ocean agenda at the United Nations.


Location: United Nations Headquarters Conference Room 1, New York City

6pm to 9:30pm

Annual World Oceans Day Reception at UN Headquarters, hosted by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea

As has become custom, at this year’s Annual World Oceans Day Reception the Secretary-General’s Annual World Oceans Day Message will be delivered and the winners of the Annual World Oceans Day Oceanic Photo Competition will be announced by the multiple time contest winner Ellen Cuylaerts. The evening will also feature musical performances.


Location: United Nations Headquarters  Visitors Lobby (“Sputnik Lounge”)

This reception has been made possible thanks to the generous support of: Pew Charitable Trusts, Blancpain, and Hawaiian Airlines.



On World Oceans Day people across the globe celebrate the significance and impact of the oceans around the planet, by highlighting their many contributions to human society, while recognizing the considerable challenges we face in maintaining the benefits that the oceans provide. The oceans cover about two-thirds of the surface of the Earth and are the very foundations of life. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, absorb a large share of carbon dioxide emissions, provide food and nutrients, regulate climate, and are important economically for countries that rely on tourism, fishing and other marine resources for income, and serve as the backbone of international trade. Unfortunately, human pressures, including overexploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing, as well as unsustainable aquaculture practices, marine pollution, habitat destruction, alien species, climate change and ocean acidification are taking a significant toll on the world’s oceans and seas. Peace and security are also critical to the full enjoyment of the benefits that can be derived from the oceans and for their sustainable development.  As has been remarked by the Secretary-General, “There will be no development without security and no security without development”.


Many countries have celebrated World Oceans Day following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as of 2009, 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day” (resolution 63/111, paragraph 171). The official designation of World Oceans Day by the United Nations is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the benefits derived from the oceans and the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans. The day is intended to provide an opportunity for people to reflect and emphasize the benefits that the oceans can provide and our individual and collective duty to interact with oceans in a sustainable manner so as to meet current needs without compromising those of future generations.




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