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FAQs on the Ocean Conference and why the ocean matters


The ocean matters to everyone, even if you don't live by it. Billions of people depend on the ocean for their main source of protein and millions of others draw their livelihood from the seas. Major economic activities, such as tourism, fisheries and trade, depend on a healthy ocean. The ocean is the primary regulator of the global climate. It supplies half the oxygen we breathe and absorbs a third of the carbon dioxide we produce.

We also matter to the ocean and can play a significant role in safeguarding its health and sustainability. Climate change, for instance, continues to lead to, among others, rising sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events that directly threaten the lives and livelihoods of coastal communities, especially in Small Island Developing States.

The forthcoming Ocean Conference will play an important role in putting in place a new chapter of ocean action - one that is driven by science, technology and innovation. It will also underscore the need to harness nature-based solutions including mangroves, salt marsh and seagrass that have been historically known to have major mitigation potential.

The first Ocean Conference, which took place in New York in June 2017, showed the world the status of our ocean and the impact of human activities. We know that there are pervasive changes taking place below water.

We also know that it is not a hopeless situation; there are solution to reversing the damage and allowing the ocean to heal. This year's Ocean Conference will bring together world leaders, scientists, the business community, change-makers and activists to join forces to inspire, create and invest in solutions.

The conference expects everyone who can make a difference to step up and make the necessary changes needed to transform their policies, businesses and lifestyles into something more sustainable, and less harmful and exploitative.

Human health, economic prosperity, and a stable climate depend on a healthy ocean. Action now to address ocean problems will go far to promote sustainable development which is critical for a more equal, peaceful and healthy world.

Basically, the short answer is that trouble for the ocean means trouble for people. A healthy ocean means a healthy planet – a planet that can better protect and sustain all living things that depend on it.

There are several outcomes, including three critical ones, expected at the Ocean Conference. The co-chairs of the conference, the governments of Portugal and Kenya, will report on the outcome of the conference.

Member States will adopt a Declaration to implement and facilitate the protection and conservation of the ocean and its resources.

We are also expecting stakeholders from governments and businesses to civil society to make concrete and realistic voluntary commitments to address the various ocean-related issues affecting their communities, countries and beyond.

The eight thematic dialogues, including on marine pollution, ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming, sustainable fisheries and other ocean-based economies, scientific knowledge and marine technology, and the international legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources, will review the opportunities and challenges with the ambition to advance commitments and action on wide-ranging ocean issues. A report from the relevant chairs is expected at the end of the conference.

There is only one global ocean, the vast body of water that covers more than 70 per cent of the Earth—the waters flow and intermingle all around the globe.

Pollution in the ocean anywhere can show up everywhere. The oceans that we commonly refer to—the Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Southern—are more aptly described as ocean regions. Then there are a multitude of sub-regions that flow from seas into bays, estuaries, and so forth.

Yes. Since 60 to 90 per cent of marine litter is made up of different plastics polymers, one of the main solutions for addressing marine pollution in our oceans would be to reduce our plastic footprint, including through efforts to reuse and recycle all plastic instead of throwing them away after one use and implement better waste collection on our shores.