Lisbon, Portugal

2 June 2016

Secretary-General's message to International Meeting of Ministers of the Sea [delivered by Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel]

I congratulate the Government of Portugal on the convening of the “Oceans Meeting 2016”, in particular the “International Meeting of Ministers of the Sea”, which signals Portugal’s continued commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources.

Oceans are drivers of sustainable development, food security and livelihoods. But with oceans under intense pressure, the international community needs to take more effective measures to safeguard their health and resilience. The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment carried out under United Nations auspices in 2015 should be a call to action.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides a solid foundation for States to cooperate in developing effective ocean policies and achieving a sustainable ocean economy.

Since the “Blue Week Lisbon” last year, a number of milestones related to the oceans have been reached, including the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and decision of the General Assembly to develop an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

I wish to highlight, in particular, the importance of implementing Sustainable Development Goal 14, to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”, as well as other ocean-related Goals.  Interlinkages among the goals are also crucial. For example, technological innovations are beginning to show the potential of oceans as renewable sources of energy that can advance our work on Goal 7, to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

The United Nations system is committed to supporting Member States in this effort, including through inter-agency cooperation and the coordination mechanism, UN-Oceans. We have challenging tasks ahead to advance the well-being of present and future generations. I thank you for your commitment, and offer my best wishes for a successful meeting.