UN Chief: ‘Tide must turn’ on ocean emergency

António Guterres is calling for a more direct approach to collectively stop the destruction of the world’s oceans

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“We face an ocean emergency and the tide must be turned.”

That’s the belief of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who delivered a speech at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, imploring the world to protect our seas.

He claims that we have taken the ocean for granted and “our failure to care for the ocean will have ripple effects across the entire 2030 Agenda.”

Last year, the UN proclaimed this decade the ‘Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’, as it looks to improve the health of the oceans with the help of the world’s nations.

Notwithstanding this, Guterres said: “Let’s have no illusions. Much more needs to be done by all of us together.”

Out of all 17 of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), number 14 has received the least financial support, he warns.

Goal 14 centres around ensuring the oceans and seas are sustainable, with environmental protective practices in place for any exploits.

He recommended four points – to invest in sustainable ocean economies; scale-up area-based conservation measures; protect the lives of people who rely on the oceans and improve our understanding of the oceans with more science and innovation.

“Sustainable ocean management could help the ocean produce as much as six times more food and generate 40 times more renewable energy than it currently does,” he highlighted.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is co-hosting the conference with Portugal, said: “We expect to leave Lisbon with a clear understanding of financing options and pathways. The Ocean is the most underappreciated resource in our planet.”