Honourable guests, Mr. Vitor Pataco and Ms. Nadia Ahmed,
Distinguished youth delegates,
Colleagues and Friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great honour to address you at this Youth and Innovation Forum as the Secretary-General of the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference.
Over the next week, world leaders and experts will be gathering here in Portugal on a shared mission, to protect our ocean.
A healthy, productive and resilient ocean is fundamental to life on our planet. The wellbeing of present and future generations depends on the health and productivity of our ocean.
The ocean continues to be under unprecedented pressure because of increasing of populations, climate change, increasing pollution, food insecurity and diminishing biodiversity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought devastating impacts on ocean-based economies, particularly in small island developing States, which have been disproportionately affected.
In the midst of these challenges, it is particularly encouraging to see how you, the young people, are stepping up and driving the change that is needed including across business, science and innovation.
Earlier this spring, the Youth Forum of the United Nations Economic and Social Council gathered thousands of young people from around the world to debate solutions and recommendations for accelerating implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It also resulted in several concrete recommendations on how policy makers can better support young people to take action in support of the ocean.
Firstly, we should increase ocean literacy amongst children and youth at all levels of education to build their capacity to forge long-lasting solutions.
Secondly, we need to foster the meaningful engagement of young people in decision-making processes at all levels, so that young people can be mobilized and consulted, and meaningfully contribute to discussions and outcome documents.
Thirdly, the private sector should be incentivized to create sustainable long-term impact, including by providing funding and stimulating innovation amongst youth.
The ECOSOC Youth Forum also reaffirmed a number of important messages to young changemakers.
First, when designing and implementing solutions, all relevant stakeholders should be consulted and engaged, including local communities, indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups. Decisions should be informed by both scientific evidence and traditional knowledge.
Second, since SDG 14 is so closely interlinked with all the other SDGs, you can always contribute to ocean action, no matter what your background, passion and interests are.
Third, be confident in sharing the youth perspective. Continue to develop scalable solutions and demonstrate the impact that your work is having.
I thank the Governments of Portugal and Kenya, the UN Global Compact, Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), the Center of Engineering and Product Development (CEiiA), the Municipality of Cascais, and the NOVA School of Business and Economics for creating such a dynamic programme for the Youth and Innovation Forum to challenge and empower you with knowledge, tools and connections.
I wish everyone productive days of learning, knowledge sharing and networking and great success as you tackle the five Ocean Challenges at the upcoming Innovathon!
I thank you.