Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World Oceans Day, observed on 8 June:
The COVID-19 pandemic is a sharp reminder of how we are all intimately connected — to each other and to nature.
As we work to end the pandemic and build back better, we have a once‑in‑a‑generation opportunity — and responsibility — to correct our relationship with the natural world, including the world’s seas and oceans.
We rely on the oceans for food, livelihoods, transport and trade. And as the lungs of our planet and its largest carbon sink, the oceans play a vital role in regulating the global climate.
Today, sea levels are rising due to climate change, threatening lives and livelihoods in low-lying nations and coastal cities and communities around the world. The oceans are becoming more acidic, putting marine biodiversity and essential food chains in jeopardy. And plastic pollution is everywhere.
On this World Oceans Day, we focus on “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”. Better understanding of the oceans is essential for conserving fish stocks and discovering new products and medicines.
The upcoming United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will provide impetus and a common framework for action. I urge Governments and all stakeholders to commit to the conservation and sustainability of the oceans through innovation and science.