Put aside short-term national gain, to avoid long-term global catastrophe: UN
Oman along with 800 and more government and non-governmental organisations have made voluntary commitments to take action to improve the health of oceans at the Ocean Conference.
The sultanate’s delegation was headed by H E Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali bin lssa al Harthy, Permanent Representative of Oman to the UN.
Voluntary commitments, now numbering over 800 and still increasing, come as heads of state and government and ministers join ocean leaders, experts and civil society organisations to discuss solutions that restore the health of world’s oceans. 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 oceans.
“The Ocean Conference is where we truly begin the process of reversing the cycle of decline into which our accumulated activities have placed oceans,” said Peter Thomson, president of the UN General Assembly.
“By adding to the conference’s register of voluntary commitments; of producing practical solutions to oceans’ problems at the Partnership Dialogues. Through the affirmation of the conference’s Call for Action, we have begun that process of reversing the wrongs.”
It will result in a Call for Action that has been agreed to by countries.
Additional outcomes include the results of seven partnership dialogues that focus on solutions, and voluntary commitments to action.
“The conference explored how to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14), which seeks to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,” said Wu Hongbo, conference secretary-general and undersecretary-general of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Warning that the special relationship between people and oceans that brings untold benefits for life is under threat as never before, United Nations secretary-general António Guterres said at the opening of the Ocean Conference. He said that the problems concerning oceans - all created by human activities, 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.”
Addressing the opening session, Thomson said, “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 oceans.”
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 oceans and climate change.”
But Thomson also voiced a measure of optimism, noting, “The good news is that we have already taken decisive action. We put in place SDG 14 within the 2030 Agenda. Remedial ocean action is getting under way.”
The conference was held at UN headquarters in New York, from June 5-9.