Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this event on the Road to Lisbon: The 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference.
The UN Ocean Conference – which was postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – is now set to be held from 27 June, to 1 July 2022, in Lisbon, Portugal. Following this decision by the General Assembly, the substantive and logistic preparations are starting to pick up by relevant departments of the UN Secretariat, as well as UN agencies.
As we all witness, climate change is having a devastating impact on the health of the ocean. The ocean is a giant sink for greenhouse gas emissions. It plays a crucial role in tackling climate change. However, excessive absorption of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, is now threatening life in the ocean. The greenhouse gases have made our ocean warmer, more acidic, and deoxygenated.
Addressing climate change and its impacts on the ocean, remains one of the most significant challenges to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The multi-dimensional link between SDG 13 on combatting climate change, and SDG 14 on conservation and sustainable use of the ocean, have been showcased during the road towards the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. In particular, it has been elaborated through the “Keeping the Momentum” webinar series, produced by UN DESA, curated in partnership with UN system entities, and Ambassador Peter Thomson.
To tackle the climate change crisis and deteriorating health of the ocean, it is essential that the necessary policies be informed by science and data. Evidence-based and data-driven decisions, should become the norm. Science clearly shows that our planet is facing unprecedented threats, as a result of unsustainable human activity.
For that reason, the General Assembly decided that the theme of the Conference will be “Scaling up ocean action, based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions”. And, that the outcome document will be a brief, concise, action-oriented and intergovernmental agreed declaration. It will focus on science-based and innovative areas of action. It is in this same token, that the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021-2030, was also launched last year.
As the Conference Secretary-General, I am determined to ensure that the Conference contribute to promoting science-based solutions, innovations, and partnerships. These are sorely needed to meet the challenges of climate change and the declining health of the ocean.
UN DESA – in collaboration with the co-hosts of the Conference, Kenya and Portugal, UN system entities, and all stakeholders and partners – will ensure the 2022 UN Ocean Conference is a milestone event. I count on your full support in working with us to reverse the decline of the health of the ocean.
In the lead up to the Conference, I encourage all stakeholders to submit inputs to the registry of Voluntary Commitments on ocean action, managed by UN DESA. Voluntary commitments were one of the major outcomes of the 2017 UN Ocean Conference. This platform provides yet another way for everyone to get involved and do their part, in support of SDG 14.
I thank you.