5 things you should know about the UN Ocean Conference, the chance to save the planet’s largest ecosystem – Global issues

With delegates from Member States, NGOs and universities in attendance, as well as entrepreneurs seeking to sustainably develop the “Green Economy”, there is high hope that the This event, taking place in the Portuguese city of Lisbon from June 27 to July 1, will mark a new era of Oceans.

1. Time to focus on solutions

The first conference, in 2017, was seen as a game changer in alerting the world to Ocean problems. According to Peter ThomsonUN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Oceans, Lisbon “will provide solutions to those problems”.

The event is designed to create a space for the international community to promote the adoption of innovative, science-based solutions for sustainable ocean management, including combating water acidification, pollution, fishing illegality, loss of habitat and biodiversity.

This year’s conference will also determine the level of UN ambition Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). The decade will be a major theme of the conference and will be the subject of a number of key events, setting out the vision for a healthier, sustainable Ocean.

The UN has set 10 ocean-related goals to be achieved this decade, as part of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the Organization’s blueprint for a more equitable future for people and the planet. These include action to prevent and reduce pollution and acidification, protect ecosystems, regulate fisheries, and advance scientific knowledge. At the conference, interactive dialogues will focus on how to address many of these issues.

Fish swimming in the Red Sea coral reef.

© Ocean Image Bank / Brook Peters

Fish swimming in the Red Sea coral reef.

The role of youth will be at the forefront in Lisbon, with young entrepreneurs, working on innovative, science-based solutions to important issues, an important part of the dialogue.

From June 24 to 26, they will participate in Youth and Innovation Foruma platform to help young entrepreneurs and innovators scale their initiatives, projects and ideas, by providing professional training and networking with mentors, investors, private sector and government officials.

The forum will also include an “Innovathon”, where groups of five participants will work together to create and propose new ocean solutions.

2. High stakes

The ocean provides us all with oxygen, food and livelihood. It nurtures biodiversity beyond imagination, and directly supports human life, through food and energy sources.

Besides serving as a source of life, oceans also stabilize the climate and store carbon, acting as a giant reservoir for greenhouse gases.

Based on UN data, about 680 million people live in low-lying coastal areas, increasing to about one billion by 2050.

In addition, the latest analysis estimates that 40 million people will be employed in ocean-based industries by the end of the decade.

3. Highlights of Kenya and Portugal

Although the Conference is taking place in Portugal, it is co-hosted by Kenya, where 65% of the coastal population lives in rural areas, mainly engaged in fishing, agriculture and mining to work for live.

A local fisherman in Kenya who depends on fish for food and livelihood.

© UNDP / Amunga Eshuchi

A local fisherman in Kenya who depends on fish for food and livelihood.

For Bernadette Loloju, a resident of Samburu County, Kenya, the ocean is important to her people because it allows them to obtain many of the goods they need. “The ocean contains many living things including fish. It also provides us with food. When we arrived in Mombasa city, we enjoyed the beach and swimming, which added to our happiness.”

Nzambi MateeUnited Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Young champion of the Earth, sharing the same vision. Nzambi lives in Nairobi, Kenya and is the founder Gjenge MakersThe company produces low-cost sustainable building materials made from recycled plastic waste.

Ms. Matee takes plastic waste from the ocean caught by fishermen and converts it into bricks – “Recycling ocean plastic waste has helped me to have more than 113 young people and women who together produce 300,000 bricks. I make a living from the ocean, and therefore the ocean is life to me,” she said.

Passion for the ocean is shared with Portugal, the largest coastal European Union Member State with approximately four million kilometers of continuous coastline, and as such, a central role. in the Atlantic basin.

Nazaré Beach in Portugal.

© Unsplash / Tamas Tuzes-Katai

Nazaré Beach in Portugal.

Catarina Grilo, Director of Conservation and Policy at Associação Natureza Portugal (ANP), an NGO in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The ANP operates a number of projects in the areas of marine protection, sustainable fisheries and ocean conservation.

“The previous conference in New York was a really good time to raise awareness about the role the oceans play in human well-being. At the time, we had a lot of voluntary commitments from Member States and NGOs, but Now is the time to move from words to actions“.

4. In essence, oceans and global climate are interconnected

Oceans and global climate heavily influence each other in many ways. As the climate crisis continues to pose an existential threat, there are several key indicators that scientists are watching closely.

Follow World Meteorological Organization’s latest climate change report (WMO) global mean sea level increased by an average of 4.5 mm per year from 2013 to 2021, as the ice sheets melted at an increasing rate.

The ocean absorbs about 23% of the CO2 generated by human activity and when that happens, chemical reactions take place, acidifying the seawater. That puts the marine environment at risk, and the more acidic the water, the less CO2 it can absorb.

Samuel Collins, a project manager at Oceano Azul Foundationin Lisbon, believes that the conference will act as a bridge to COP27, which will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt this November.

“The ocean is essentially integral to the climate. It contains 94% of the habitable space on the planet. I can come up with some shocking statistics for all of us. ,” said the 27-year-old Scot.

“The reason why the products we buy in the store are so cheap is because shipping moves 90% of our merchandise in-house, so there are many reasons why we are connected to ocean, whether you are a landlocked country or not. There is no living organism on earth that is not affected by the Ocean”.

Different species of fish swim in a marine reserve off the coast of Malta.

© FAO / Kurt Arrigo

Different species of fish swim in a marine reserve off the coast of Malta.

5. What can you do to help?

We asked several experts – including Catarina Grilo and biologist Nuno Barros at ANP, as well as Sam Collins at the Oceano Azul Foundation – what citizens can do to promote a sustainable green economy, while waiting for decision-makers and world leaders to act. Here are some ideas that you can incorporate into your daily life:

  1. If you eat fish, diversify your diet seafood consumption, not always cannibalism. Also, avoid consuming top carnivores and make sure what you eat comes from responsible sources.
  1. Prevent plastic pollution: with 80% of marine pollution originating from land, do your part to prevent pollution from reaching the sea. You can help by using reusable products, avoiding the consumption of disposable products, and also making sure you’re putting your waste in the proper bins.
Clean up the beach at Praia da Poça, a popular little beach at the head of the Estoril - Cascais coast, in Portugal.

United Nations News / Teresa Salema

Clean up the beach at Praia da Poça, a popular little beach at the head of the Estoril – Cascais coast, in Portugal.

  1. Pick up trash from the beach, and do not litter. But also think that any steps you can take to reduce your environmental impact will help the oceans indirectly.
  1. Continue to advocate for solutions, whether it’s on the street, writing to decision-makers, signing petitions, or Support campaigns aims to influence decision-makers, at the national or global level.

UN News will be in Lisbon covering the Ocean Conference, so you can expect news stories, interviews and features with UN experts, youth and voices. country.

Keep an eye out for the latest updates on our site and also on Twitter.

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