Media Advisory

Efforts to scale up ocean action to continue

NEW YORK, 15 April 2020 — In light of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and growing public health concerns, the 2020 United Nations Ocean Conference, which was scheduled to take place from 2 to 6 June in Lisbon, Portugal, has been postponed per decision 74/548 adopted by the General Assembly on 13 April 2020.

The Conference co-hosts, Portugal and Kenya, in consultation with the President of the General Assembly, will identify new dates for the Conference and timelines for its preparatory process, subject to the development of the pandemic.

Despite the postponement, efforts will continue to scale up ocean action based on science and innovation to mobilize, create and drive solutions to protect the ocean and marine resources and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water.

The registry of voluntary commitments for ocean action remains open for everyone – from governments to civil society to businesses and individuals – to register their action in support of the ocean. Additionally, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs is organizing a series of webinars for key stakeholder groups to connect, mobilize and bring forward new ideas for keeping the momentum for ocean action.

The United Nations and its system of UN agencies continue to closely monitor the evolving situation and will provide updates, including a new date for the Ocean Conference, as soon as they become available.

The Governments of Kenya and Portugal issued a joint statement on the postponement: “Despite the obvious need to postpone the UN Ocean Conference as a result of unescapable public health concerns, we want to stress, as co-hosts, that our commitment to organize the UN Ocean Conference remains as strong and unwavering as always. We look forward to resuming the preparations as soon as possible in order to bring about ambitious, transformative, and effective action to save our ocean.”

Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, said: “With the UN Ocean Conference now formally postponed, many virtual ocean action events are entering the April to June pipeline. I encourage all to stay informed and engaged. Meanwhile, the conference co-hosts and the UN Secretariat are diligently continuing preparations for the UN Ocean Conference to be held in Lisbon once conditions allow.”

Further information:

For the latest updates regarding the 2020 UN Ocean Conference, please refer to the official website:

For the latest coronavirus information, please refer to the World Health Organization: and the UN portal:

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UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Ariel Alexovich | T: +1 917 367-6512 | E:

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