Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World Oceans Day, observed on 8 June:
This year’s observance of World Oceans Day falls as the world wrestles with the COVID-19 pandemic, a climate crisis and humankind’s continuing assault on oceans, seas and marine resources. The recently issued second World Ocean Assessment confirmed that many of the benefits that the global ocean provides to humankind are being undermined by our own actions.
Our seas are choking with plastic waste, which can be found from the remotest atolls to the deepest ocean trenches. Overfishing is causing an annual loss of almost $90 billion in net benefits — which also heightens the vulnerability of women, who are vital to the survival of small-scale fishing businesses. Carbon emissions are driving ocean warming and acidification, destroying biodiversity and causing sea‑level rise that threatens heavily inhabited coastlines.
The theme of this year’s observance, “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods”, underscores the importance of oceans for the cultural life and economic survival of communities around the world. More than 3 billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, the vast majority in developing countries.
As we strive to recover from COVID-19, let’s end our war on nature. This will be critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, keeping within reach the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement, and ensuring the health of our oceans for today’s and future generations.