World leaders, scientists, the business community, change makers and civil society activists will be gathering in Lisbon, Portugal to from June 27 – July 1, 2022 to deliberate on “scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation” to “conserve and sustainably us the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” (SDG14) Some of the targets are:
- Reduce marine pollution
- Protect and restore ecosystems
- Reduce ocean acidification
- Sustainable fishing – end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
- Conserve Coastal and Marine areas
- End subsidies contributing to overfishing
- Increase economic benefits from sustainable use of marine resources
- Increase scientific knowledge, research and technology for ocean health
- Support small scale fishers
- Implement and enforce international laws
We, who live on land, depend on the ocean, the most diverse, important ecosystem, for our very existence – 50% of our oxygen comes from the ocean. Ocean absorbs 50 times for carbon dioxide than our atmosphere, helping to regulate global warming. Ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of Earth’s water.
Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods; a vast majority of them is in the Global South. Oceans also provides food – it is the primary source of protein for three billion people. Pollution and unmonitored fishing is threatening the source of their sustenance. Many communities have deep cultural and spiritual connections to the ocean. Indigenous Peoples have put the sea at the center of community life.
Healthy oceans and seas are essential to our existence. In spite of our dependence on the ocean for food, energy, water, we have exploited our ocean and damaged its precious resources. Because of its vastness, we thought the ocean is invincible and immune to human impacts. However, in reality, the ocean is in grave danger, its very chemistry is changing – ocean waters are becoming more acidified through climate change. There is urgent need to protect all marine life and eliminate pollution, overfishing, seabed mining and all forms of human exploitation.
The health of the Ocean, crucial to the health of the planet and its people; for healthy oceans are key to tackling climate change. Every one of us have a responsibility to protect the ocean, even if we live thousands of miles away from the oceans, for the sake of a sustainable future.
The Second UN Ocean Conference will play an important role in creating new pathways for ocean action based on science, technology and innovation. The Conference will also highlight how nature based solutions like, mangroves, salt marsh and seagrass can be used as mitigation measures.
Even though the Ocean Conference is taking place in Lisbon, Portugal, you can take part in the proceedings and become a change maker. The Justice Coalition for Religious (a Coalition of 20 Religious NGOs at the UN in New York) has created a guide to assist you to engage in the official meeting and side events organized by governments, NGOs and others. You can learn more about the Ocean Conference; how to join in events; and how to participate in social media advocacy. Here is the link to the guide in English and Spanish: https://jcor2030.org/communications-guides/
Do take time to participate in the Ocean Conference. Each of us can take an action to make a difference.
Teresa Kotturan SCN
NGO Representative at the UN
Sisters of Charity Federation