Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks on World Oceans Day, in New York today:
Welcome to this virtual World Oceans Day Global celebration, on the theme of “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”.
We rely on the seas and 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. In these coastal areas, higher sea levels increase vulnerability to storm surges, while saltwater intrusion degrades arable land and groundwater.
The oceans are also becoming more acidic, putting marine biodiversity and essential food chains in jeopardy. And plastic pollution is everywhere.
For too long we have failed in our responsibility to protect our marine environment. In 2015, the first World Ocean Assessment found serious and widespread degradation. I fear that the second World Ocean Assessment due later this year will reflect even more disturbing data.
We need urgent action on a global scale to protect the world’s seas and oceans from the many pressures they face. We have a responsibility to correct our relationship with the oceans.
Today we highlight “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”, and the crucial role that new ideas will play in creating a more sustainable world. We will highlight solutions and projects that address the themes of the next United Nations Ocean Conference.
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 much-needed impetus and a common framework for action.
As we work to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, let us all come together, to promote ocean science and the innovations that will save the lifeblood of our planet. I wish you a productive World Oceans Day Global celebration.