Surge in voluntary commitments for ocean action as Ocean Conference to halt ocean degradation.

Elsie Gabriel

The UN Oceans Conference opened with the announcement that the United States would exit the Paris Agreement and closed with reaffirmations from the rest of the world to press ahead with their climate plans and a historic Call To Action on conserving marines systems for sustainable development. But climate and ocean are inextricably linked. Can climate change and the ocean crisis be addressed without the world’s largest economy? Leaders from small islands, places most vulnerable to climate impacts and the ocean decline.

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The United Nations Development Programme  decided to appoint globally-acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter Cody Simpson as its first-ever Ocean Advocate to help raise awareness of the crucial role the ocean plays in the health of our planet and people!

The singer is urging the global community and his millions of devoted fans to join the #SaveOurOcean campaign.  “I grew up by the ocean and the beach,” said Simpson during the event held at the UN headquarters in New York. “I want to do everything I can in my own life to protect and preserve the ocean. Just as you should in yours.”

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A surge in the number of voluntary commitments to take action to improve the health of the ocean by countries, businesses and civil society groups has been recorded, and more are expected as the Ocean Conference gets underway Monday, 5 June at United Nations Headquarter in New York.

The commitments, now numbering over 600 and still increasing, come as heads of state and government and ministers will join ocean leaders, experts, businesses, and civil society organizations to discuss solutions that restore the health of the world’s ocean. The commitments target a wide range of ocean problems, ranging from protecting coral reefs, strengthening sustainable fisheries, reducing plastic pollution, and addressing the impacts of climate change on the ocean.

Elsie Gabriel certified Diver at small island Havelock Andamans India inspecting corals.

Warning that the special relationship between people and the ocean that brings untold benefits for life is under threat as never before, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the opening of the Ocean Conference that the problems of the ocean—all created by human activity, can all be reversed and prevented with decisive, coordinated action.

“Oceans are a testing ground for the principle of multilateralism,” he said. “The health of our oceans and seas requires us to put aside short-term national gain, to avoid long-term global catastrophe.”

“Conserving our oceans and using them sustainably is preserving life itself,” he added.

 

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World leaders joined representatives from civil society, business, academia and science at the Ocean Conference at UN Headquarters in New York in calling for accelerated action to reverse the deterioration of the ocean.

The opening of the Conference has been marked by a surge in the number of voluntary commitments to take action to improve the health of the ocean—more than 700 commitments have been received.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, said in the opening session: “In most probability this conference represents the best opportunity we will ever have to reverse the cycle of decline that human activity has brought upon the Ocean.”

He added that the central conclusion for humankind at this time is clear: “if we want a secure future for our species on this planet, we have to act now on the health of the ocean and on climate change.”

 

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But Thomson also voiced a measure of optimism, noting: “The good news is that we have already taken decisive action. We put in place SDG14 within the 2030 Agenda. Remedial Ocean action is getting underway. And we have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement. Remedial climate action is already underway!”

The Conference, co- hosted by Fiji and Sweden, began with a solemn Fiji ceremony that is accorded to high dignitaries to formally welcome and receive them into a community. The heart of a Fijian traditional welcome ceremony symbolizing the deep regard for communal ties and respect for the value of working together to achieve common goals or mutual benefit.

Planet Earth has five great oceans and 113 seas. They represent 72% of the surface of the globe, and together they’ve been an endless source of inspiration for humankind.

Can you imagine what would happen if the oceans stopped kissing the shores. Today on World Ocean day, as an advocate, underwater naturalist and diver I want to share that the oceans and seas have changed my life forever. I have an intense relationship with the ocean which I find very healing, and of course its nirvana when am at the bottom of the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian ocean.

Elsie Gabriel certified Diver at small islands Havelock Andamans India inspecting corals.

Having seen the beauty, the fragility, and even the degradation of our planet’s blue underwater, I ask you to take the pledge not to use plastic bags which destroy our marine creatures and contribute towards methane-global warming gases. Conserve the ocean for your children and grandchildren.

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