Long Island City, New York

08 June 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at World Oceans Day event for Hokule'a [as prepared for delivery]

Your Excellency, Mr. Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, Mr. Nainoa Thompson, President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Ladies and gentlemen,

Happy Oceans Day!

I am delighted to be here to welcome the Hôkûle’a to New York.

On behalf of the United Nations: congratulations on arriving here!

This is my tenth year as Secretary-General so I have seen the United Nations from many angles. But I never had this view of our Headquarters.

Today I will speak briefly about perspective.

Your voyage was a testament to the power of island people.

You showed the resilience of island culture – and the timeless value of island wisdom.

Island perspective has enriched our world.

Island nations were the first to sound the alarm about climate change.

In 1994, the small island developing States raised their voices at the United Nations conference in Barbados.

Twenty years later, we gathered the world in Samoa.

It was a powerful opportunity for island nations to amplify their call for climate action, disaster risk reduction and other critical measures that help all countries.

The Samoa Conference contributed to advancing negotiations on the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Goal 14 specifically recognizes the importance of healthy and productive oceans.

Oceans may seem endless – but there is a limit to how we should use them.

We are dangerously close to breaking that limit.

The way we treat our oceans affects their future, our biodiversity and the overall wellbeing of people and the planet.

On this World Oceans Day, we recommit to using their gifts peacefully, equitably and sustainably.

People may wonder: what can I do? Just one person, or even their family or community, may seem too small to make a difference.

We can be inspired by the example of this wonderful vessel.

Two years ago in Apia, I boarded the Hôkûle’a with President Remengesau.

My message in a bottle promised to rally world leaders for a better future.

After that, we went in different directions but we headed toward the same goal.

This small boat braved rough tides and tough storms. International negotiations were also very stormy.

But we both reached our destinations. We used respect for indigenous culture as our compass. We saw hope on our horizon. And with global support, we had the wind in our sails.

Captain Nainoa, I wish you and your entire crew a wonderful return journey.

I count on your leadership and commitment as we carry out our plans to make this world safer and more sustainable for all.

On World Oceans Day, let us renew our resolve to protect these marine treasures for generations to come.

Thank you.