Report by Humayun Kabir from Lisbon, Portugal, The 2022 UN Ocean Conference has opened in Lisbon, Portugal today with a call for a new chapter of ocean action driven by science, technology, and innovation. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, President of Portugal Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta were present at the opening ceremony.
While addressing at the opening of the Conference United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said, we have taken the ocean for granted, and today we face what I would call an “Ocean Emergency,
He added that “We must turn the tide. A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future.”
António Guterres further said Human activities are placing the health of the ocean in peril. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Global Climate in 2021 report, sea-level rise, ocean heat, ocean acidification, and greenhouse gas concentrations set new records in 2021. Additionally, marine pollution is increasing at an alarming rate, and if current trends continue, more than half of the world’s marine species may be all but extinct by 2100.
The Secretary-General also stated there is good news with a legally binding instrument on the Conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction; a new treaty that is being negotiated to address the global plastics crisis that is choking our oceans; and a week ago multilateral action on display with a World Trade Organization agreement on ending harmful fishery subsidies. But he also noted much more needs to be done.
Citing The theme of the Conference, he said “Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships, and solutions,” in line with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, stresses the critical need for scientific knowledge and marine technology to build ocean resilience.
In an opening remark, the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said the Oceans are central to the geopolitical balance of power, Health care, economic resources, energy, mobility, migrations, scientific and technological development, and climate change, all of this is present either in the context or in the outcome of a pandemic, of war and of crisis. We must recover too much time that we have lost and give hope a chance, once again, before it is too late.
The president of Portugal added that The ocean is a key driver for sustainable development In line with Sustainable Development Goal 14, human health, strong economic growth, and a stable climate depend on a healthy ocean. The ocean is a vital buffer against climate change, absorbing about 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions. More than 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean for their food security, while approximately 120 million people work directly in fisheries and aquaculture-related activities. The majority of these workers live in developing countries, specifically the Small-Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.
in an introductory statement About the conference, President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta said, The United Nations proclamation of a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 supports efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for the sustainable development of the Ocean.
More than 20 Heads of State and Government together with thousands of young people, business leaders, scientists, and civil society representatives will present fresh, bold, and innovative solutions to ignite transformational change to effectively address the challenges the ocean is facing.
In addition to the plenary sessions, there will be eight Interactive Dialogues, which will deep dive into salient areas such as addressing marine pollution, minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming, and promoting and strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies, in particular for Small Island Developing States and Least developed countries. There will also be four Special Events and more than 250 side events. These Special events will focus on youth-led innovation, the sustainable blue economy, fresh- and saltwater interlinkages, and ocean action at the local and regional levels.
Political Declaration – Our ocean, our future, our responsibility Amongst the outputs of the conference, countries will agree on an action plan that calls for a collective global response to addressing the ocean’s degradation. The final draft of the Political Declaration, to be adopted at the closing plenary, sets out specific science-based and innovative actions, taking into account the capacity challenges of developing countries, in particular Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.
The ocean is a lifeline for millions of people and economies in the Asia-Pacific region. But the health of the ocean is in serious decline – and we now stand at a critical juncture to mobilize much-needed action, partnerships, and innovative science-based solutions to protect our future.
Over the past few years, the region has taken concrete steps to protect our ocean. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has forged consensus among countries in the region, through a resolution adopted in 2020, to collectively work together in conserving and sustainably
using the ocean, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development, as well as to accelerate the implementation of the ten SDG14 target areas. Countries also recognized the importance of low-carbon solutions for maritime connectivity when adopting a new Regional Action Programme on sustainable transport development last year, and further called for aligning finance with our ocean, climate, and broader SDG aspirations.
The ocean is at the heart of our work at ESCAP. This year, ESCAP submitted a new voluntary commitment to continue to convene Governments and other stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific to enhance regional cooperation on ocean work. This comes on the back of the successful implementation of a similar commitment made at the first Global Ocean Conference in 2017. During the Lisbon dialogues, ESCAP will guarantee that the voices from Asia and the Pacific are heard, and will further showcase innovative initiatives undertaken through the Regional Decade Program to support the implementation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development in Asia-Pacific (2021-2030), the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership and the annual Asia-Pacific Day for the Ocean.
photography by: Md Aslam Sarker