Why Ocean Matters


8 June 2020 (United Nations)* — The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation.Green Turtle

Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. However, at the current time, there is a continuous deterioration of coastal waters owing to pollution and ocean acidification, which has an adversarial effect on the functioning of ecosystems and biodiversity. This is also negatively impacting small scale fisheries.

Marine protected areas need to be effectively managed and well-resourced and regulations need to be put in place to reduce overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification.

Celebrating its importance

Särkänniemi fish. Photo courtesy of Tiia Monto

For all these reasons, it was necessary to create awareness through an Observance. That is why, by its resolution 63/111 of 5 December 2008, the UN General Assembly designated 8 June as World Oceans Day.

The concept of a ‘World Oceans Day’ was first proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro as a way to celebrate our world’s shared ocean and our personal connection to the sea, as well as to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help protect it.

To raise awareness about the role the United Nations and international law can play in the sustainable development and use of the oceans and their living and non-living resources, the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea is actively coordinating different activities for World Oceans Day.

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) sponsors the World Ocean Network, which has since 2002 been instrumental in building support for ocean awareness events on 8 June.

Along with UNESCO, other UN agencies work to protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts: the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as the specialized agency oversees environmental issues; FAO, strengthens global governance and the managerial and technical capacities of members and leads consensus-building towards improved conservation and utilization of aquatic resources; UNDP, manages biodiversity and human development projects; and the International Maritime Organization, is responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.

Goal 14: Life below water and why it matters

  • Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume.
  • Open ocean sites show current levels of acidity have increased by 26 per cent since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Coastal waters are deteriorating due to pollution and eutrophication. Without concerted efforts, coastal eutrophication is expected to increase in 20 percent of large marine ecosystems by 2050.
Goal 14 logo

*SOURCE: United Nations. Go to ORIGINAL.

2020 Human Wrongs Watch

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