(Part 1) High-Level Debate on the Ocean - General Assembly, 75th session

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01-Jun-2021 03:01:43
The President of the General Assembly convenes a high-level thematic debate on the ocean and Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water, with the support of the Governments of Portugal and Kenya – co-hosts of the 2nd United Nations Ocean Conference, as well as H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Ocean, to generate momentum towards the Conference in Lisbon, when public health safety measures allow.

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The world must harness “clear, transformative and actionable solutions” to address the ocean crisis, the President of the UN General Assembly said on Tuesday. “Simply speaking, our relationship with our planet’s ocean must change”, Assembly President Volkan Bozkir told the high-level thematic debate.

People do not want to live in “a world of one crisis after the next”, Mr. Bozkir said, preferring instead the “security, sustainability and the peace of mind” that comes with a healthy planet.

“We have seen this in countries and cities that have prioritized coastal and marine areas over tourism…in protected wetlands…in efforts to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and regulate shipping and resource extraction”, he said.

“Building a sustainable ocean economy is one of the most important tasks and greatest opportunities of our time”, he spelled out, urging governments, industries, civil society and others to “join forces to develop and implement ocean solutions”.

As the SDG14 targets will be among the first to mature, Mr. Bozkir encouraged everyone to “think ahead” and arrive at the second Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, with “demonstrable evidence of progress”.

Rather than wait until the Conference opens to re-discuss these issues, he reminded that the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development has already begun.

“Let us choose to arrive in Portugal with accomplishments and progress that inspire hope and optimism for a better tomorrow”, he concluded.

Peter Thomson, Special Envoy on Oceans, emphasized the need to improve our relationship with the sea to one of respect and balance.

He underscored the importance of delivering on SDG14, saying that “ocean acidification cannot continue unabated” while pointing out that greenhouse gas emission reductions are “required to meet 2030 goals”.

And while spotlighting progress that is being made on ocean awareness, marine protected area coverage and ocean science, Mr. Thomson highlighted the urgent need to scale up.

From Portugal, Ricardo Serrão Santos, Minister of the Sea, also spoke about the importance of ocean health for human and planetary well-being, pointing to the 2022 goal of “a more inclusive and more connected” engagement with the ocean.

Mr. Serrão Santos underlined Portugal’s support for science, as being “critical to cross-cutting in every ocean action”.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Raychelle Omamo, drew attention to the impact of COVID-19, not only in delaying the Conference but also the havoc it has wreaked on jobs in coastal economies an on vulnerable coastal communities.

“We seek a recovery that will promote sustainable development and harmony between people and the natural resources that sustain us”, she said.

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