World Ocean Day

As delivered

Remarks by H.E. Mr Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly,  at World Ocean Day

8 June 2017


Special Event commemorating World Oceans Day 2017 Event includes talks from world-renowned ocean experts and explorers, representatives from coastal communities, and voices from current and future generations The Honourable Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama,
Her Excellency Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden,
Under Secretary-General Serpa-Soares,
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,


Welcome all to this morning’s celebration of World Ocean Day. Every year on 8 June on every continent around the world, events are held in honour of the Ocean. To those participating in those events today we send greetings of solidarity. Here at the United Nations, on this fourth day of our historic Ocean Conference, we are joining hands with brothers and sisters from every corner of this planet to celebrate the majesty of the Ocean.

We celebrate its beauty, long-extolled in our music, poetry and art, committing ourselves on this special day to the conservation of that beauty for all time. We celebrate the richness of its bounty, dedicating ourselves at this conference to the sustainability of Ocean’s resources. And we celebrate the global consciousness that has now risen strong in recognition of the pressing need for humankind to begin righting the wrongs we have brought upon the Ocean.

The momentum swelling from The Ocean Conference is immense. It is beating against the mindlessness of marine pollution, driving the muck back from where it came for recycling or abstinence. It is propelling rationality for the good of all into the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies and decisive action to end destructive and illegal fishing practices. It will carry us forward to sustainable fisheries management, and the restoration of fish stocks in the shortest feasible time.

Buoyed by marine protected areas, marine spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management, the measures emanating from this conference will turn the tide on the degradation of biodiversity and marine ecosystems.

In all these endeavours we will be working with the best of science. Science-based management measures, monitoring and control will guide our work on restoring coral reefs, and in controlling nutrient pollution and untreated discharges. Scientific knowledge and research will shape our policies, bolster partnerships and inform the restoration of sustainable ecological balance to our relationship with the Ocean.

In all of these measures for the good, the critical mass of nations and humanity will join forces, through the universality of Sustainable Development Goal 14, the Ocean Goal of the 2030 Agenda, and through our fidelity to the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. The self-harming practices of the past will be left in our wake, and we will bequeath to our children and grandchildren an Ocean of restored integrity and sustainable bounty.

We will achieve all this, because here at the Ocean Conference in June of 2017 is where we truly began the process of reversing the cycle of decline into which our accumulated activities had placed the Ocean. Through our acts of comprehensively populating the conference’s register of voluntary commitments; of producing practical solutions to Ocean’s problems through our deliberations this week at the Partnership Dialogues; and through the affirmation of the conference’s Call for Action, we have begun that process of reversing the wrongs.

We are going forward together now, to conserve and sustainably use the resources of the Ocean. We have agreed to act decisively, to mobilise the necessary means, to observe the precautionary principle, and to commit to SDG14’s implementation. From this conference onwards, scientists, policy-makers, the world’s fishing community, Ocean advocates, in fact everyone who cares about the state of the Ocean’s health, knows that we are in this together. The Ocean is no man’s and no country’s preserve; it is the common heritage of humankind, ours to conserve and sustainably manage for posterity.

I join with you today in celebrating the grandeur of the source and sustainer of life on this blue planet, the wondrous Ocean deep and wide.

I thank you for your attention.

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