Media Advisory

UN Ocean Conference Preparatory Meeting, New York, 4 to 5 February 2020

31 January 2020 – Ministers and representatives from civil society organizations, the business community, intergovernmental and United Nations agencies will gather in New York in early February to kick-off preparations for the Ocean Conference, slated to take place from 2 to 6 June in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Preparatory Meeting of the Ocean Conference, co-chaired by the Governments of Palau and Denmark, will define key areas of ocean action, and drive governments and other key decision-makers to deliver on their commitments. It will chart the course of action as the world prepares for the Conference, propelling much needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global action.

The Conference comes at critical time when people everywhere are recognizing that environmental emergencies are posing increasing threats to their lives and livelihoods. More governments and people are strengthening their efforts to mobilize, create and implement solutions to counter significant threats – from climate change, exploitation of ecosystems to the loss of marine habitats and vastly diminishing biodiversity.

The ocean, often referred to as “the lungs of the planet” and “the world’s biggest carbon sink,” remains our greatest ally against climate change. But destructive human activities such as overfishing, land-based pollution and carbon emissions have led to dramatic changes in the earth’s richest biosphere – causing rising sea-levels, extreme weather events and marine heatwaves that are destroying entire coral reef ecosystems and altering life below and on land.

A protected and healthy ocean is a major resource for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – the planet’s blueprint for equality, peace and prosperity. The ocean sustains life on the planet, providing healthy food, green transport, renewable energy, medicines and minerals for a sustainable and an inclusive world.

Preparatory Meeting Programme is available here

Press Conference on the Preparatory Meeting   


  • Ambassador Ngedikes Olai Uludong, Palau @nuludong
  • Ambassador Martin Hermann, Denmark @BilleHermann
  • Ambassador Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean* @ThomsonFiji
  • Moderator: Martina Donlon, UN Department of Global Communications

WHEN: Wednesday, 5 February 2020, 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. EST

WHERE: S-237, UN Headquarters, New York  or Watch live on UN Web TV

A list of UN Officials available for interviews is available here. Please email the media contacts below for all interview requests, including for representatives from governments, businesses and civil society organizations. 

*Ambassador Thomson leads UN advocacy and outreach efforts to galvanise political momentum, mobilise action and raise ambition for the implementation Sustainable Development Goal 14 – the cornerstone for concerted global action to protect life below water. Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Liu Zhenmin, acts as the Conference’s Secretary- General and Legal Counsel Miguel de Serpa Soares is the Special Adviser to the Presidents of the Conference (Portugal and Kenya).

The Ocean Conference [2 to 6 June]

The Ocean Conference, to be convened by the UN General Assembly and hosted by the Portuguese and Kenyan Governments, calls for the scaling up of science-driven innovation and solutions, and for meaningful partnerships to implement Goal 14 .

Seen as a major milestone in 2020, also known as the “biodiversity super year,” the Ocean Conference will present a significant opportunity to put in place policies and solutions that ignite progress for our environment. The year also marks the start of a Decade of Action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals by the 2030 deadline.

During the first Ocean Conference in 2017, countries unanimously agreed to a set of measures and adopted a Call to Action under the banner, “Our Ocean, Our Future.” There were more than 1,300 commitments to take action on the management and conservation of the ocean.

UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development [2021 to 2030]

The Ocean Conference comes ahead of the UN Decade of Ocean Science which is poised to strengthen the international cooperation and partnerships needed to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies for the wellbeing of the ocean.

Major Ocean-related UN Events in 2020*

*More events, including ones during the Conference, will be added as information becomes available.

Please use the list below for your editorial planning purposes.

Launch of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, Quebec (18 May)

The 5th Outlook will build on several sources of information, including the 2019 Global Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which warned that a staggering 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.

UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15), Kunming [5-10 October]

This biennial conference will provide a critical opportunity to negotiate and adopt a new global biodiversity framework – that can advance progress on the conservation, restoration, and sustainable and equitable use of biodiversity. It will also highlight the importance of placing nature-based solutions at the heart of the global development agenda.

UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow [9-20 November]

COP26 will be essential for the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was adopted in 2015. The conference will review pledges and progress made to date as well as expect countries to raise their ambitions in their efforts to cut or curb their carbon emissions by 2030.

Social Media

Please follow us for information and updates on the Preparatory Meeting, Ocean Conference and ocean issues, using the hashtags, #SaveOurOcean and #OceanAction.

On Facebook:

On Twitter:  @GlobalGoalsUN, @UNDESA, @SustDev, @UN_PGA, @globalcompact

Media Contacts

UN Department of Global Communications | Devi Palanivelu | | +1 917 495 5424

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs | Ariel Alexovich | | +1 917 367 6512

Media Accreditation

Pre-registration form for the Ocean Conference in Lisbon will be available from April through May 2020. On-site registration at the Conference venue, Altice Arena, will start on 28 May 2020 (Dates TBC).

For more information, please visit the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit’s website or contact them at or +1 212 963 6934.