World Ocean Festival will kick off major UN conference in June

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By absorbing much of the added heat trapped by atmospheric greenhouse gases, the oceans are delaying some of the impacts of climate change. Photo: WMO/Olga Khoroshunova

To "kick-off" a whole week of action devoted to the high seas in June at UN Headquarters, the organization will be joining forces with New York City in hosting the World Ocean Festival.

Tuesday's announcement was made at a press briefing, with the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, saying that the upcoming Ocean Conference would be all about finding "human solutions" to the degradation of marine life and its environment.

Matthew Wells has more.

The Ocean Conference will bring together stakeholders from across the world between 5 and 9 June, in support of Sustainable Development Goal 14 on conserving and using the world's oceans sustainably.

The host city for UN Headquarters, New York, will also host the inaugural World Ocean Festival just a day in advance of the conference, said International Affairs Commissioner Penny Abeywardena on Tuesday, speaking on behalf of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

She said the festival, organized by the Global Brain Foundation, "will galvanize people across the world" in support of endangered life and livelihoods, below sea.

"With 520 miles of the coastline, the de Blasio administration recognizes the need for cities to lead on protecting the planet from degradation, through sustainable consumption, and effective management of the world's natural resources and mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change."

General Assembly President Peter Thomson said the ocean was "in deep trouble," citing marine pollution and the scourge of plastics in the sea; continuing fishing subsidies, despite the collapse of fish stocks; and degraded coastal ecosystems across the world.

"I could go on and on about the woes of the ocean but all human problems have got human solutions and that's what the oceans conference is about: providing the solutions, working to find what those solutions are. That's what we will be doing for those five days, and as you know, there's a call to action being negotiated now between Member States that's making good progress."

Mr Thomson also encouraged everybody who cares about the plight of the ocean to register their voluntary commitments on the conference website, between now and 4 June.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’34″

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