WORLD OCEANS DAY 2016
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: www.hokulea.com
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.
WHAT IS WORLD OCEANS DAY ?
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.
(Hover over images for additional information)
Piracy and armed robbery at sea
Aerial view of a Kenyan Navy launch just off the coast of Somalia
There has been an increase in acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, particularly off the coast of Somalia, in the Western Indian Ocean and in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Acts of piracy and armed robbery threaten the lives and safety of seafarers and, in some cases, seafarers have lost their lives or have been held hostage. Acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea also cause significant disruptions to commerce and navigation including preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance, financial losses to shipowners, increased insurance premiums and security costs, increased costs to consumers and producers, and may cause damage to the marine environment. The Security Council has repeatedly reaffirmed that international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, sets out the legal framework applicable to repressing piracy and combating armed robbery at sea. States have developed a number of cooperating mechanisms to facilitate the arrest, detention and prosecution of persons suspected of these heinous crimes.
Marine environment and biodiversity
Marine Wildlife off Atauro Island, Timor Leste
Marine ecosystems and biodiversity are not only essential to the healthy functioning of the Earth and its atmosphere, but also to human life and development. The oceans’ regenerative capacity is increasingly under pressure from human activities, such as overutilization of marine living resources, the use of destructive practices, the introduction of invasive alien species and marine pollution from all sources. However, the biggest threat to the health of the marine environment stems from land-based activities. Pollutant and nutrient input into the marine environment can disrupt the delicate balance of marine ecosystems and destroy in particular vulnerable ecosystems. This type of pollution poses danger to human health by contaminating shell fisheries, water intakes and bathing areas and introduces significant amounts of plastics and other debris to coastal waters, threatening marine life through entanglement, suffocation and ingestion.
Marine renewable energy
Middelgruden Offshore Wind Farm in Denmark
Marine renewable energy may have a significant role in reducing reliance on non-renewable energy sources that produce emissions of greenhouse gases, including CO2, assisting to mitigate the adverse effects caused by climate change. Currently, only offshore wind energy has reached an acceptable level of development to be considered competitive. However, there are other less developed technologies that obtain energy from the seas and oceans, including wave and tidal energy, energy from currents, ocean thermal energy and salinity gradient energy.
Oceans and climate change
View of the melting Collins Glacier in Antarctica
The oceans play a vital role in the global climate system. They produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while also providing essential goods and services for sustaining life on Earth. Climate change and ocean acidification, caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, are bringing about changes in the oceans that include rises in sea level and vulnerability to coral and plankton structures, which are undoubtedly putting coastal communities at risk.
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