On Saturday, 9 June, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres travelled to La Malbaie, in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, Canada, to attend the summit of the G7.
In the afternoon, he participated in an outreach session on “Healthy, productive and resilient oceans and seas, coasts and communities” with leaders of the G7, several other countries and international organizations. He warned leaders that, with some 8 million tons of plastic waste entering the oceans each year, unless we change course, plastic could outweigh all the fish in the oceans by 2050. The Secretary-General said that we are in a battle and we are losing on every front. “Coastal communities are in jeopardy, the oceans are being swamped by a tide of pollution, marine life is in decline, and climate change is having an increasingly powerful impact,” he said.
But, he also said that we have a battle plan: our guide is the Sustainable Development Goals, and our legal framework is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, the Secretary-General warned that initiatives and declarations are worth nothing unless we accept that we face a global emergency. He, therefore, told world leaders their leadership is needed now, more than ever. “If we don’t protect our seas and oceans, and if we don’t win the battle against climate change, all the assumptions on which we base our policymaking will be worthless,” he said.
The Secretary-General then held bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, as well as with the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and the Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The Secretary-General returned to New York on Saturday evening.