Ocean Action Hub

20 Sep 2017 - [As prepared for delivery]

The importance of oceans for sustainable development is of unparalleled significance to human life.

The international community embodied this critical significance in the Sustainable Development Goal 14 to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

More than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal resources for their livelihoods.

The global oceans-based economy is estimated at between 3 and 6 trillion dollars a year. 

At least 90 per cent of the volume of global trade is seaborne.

Oceans also capture and store about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans.

Mangroves and coral reefs offer shoreline protection.

Global coral reefs protect around 150,000 kilometres of shoreline in more than 100 countries and territories and are essential breeding grounds for fisheries. Coral reefs are the Amazon of the oceans.

Marine phytoplankton produces 50 per cent of oxygen on Earth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These few examples illustrate how the oceans relate to all aspects of human life. Science is telling us that rising ocean temperatures are accelerating the overall warming trends.

According scientific studies, this June, the world's oceans reached 17 degrees Celsius, their highest average temperature since record keeping for these data began in the 19th century.

The growing warming of oceans is challenging nearly all aspects of how they contribute to human life.            

Besides, there is significant increase in the intensity and frequencies of the storms, some of which we have witnessed a few days ago,. This is what science has been warning us.  Warming oceans are also endangering polar creatures and threatening coral reefs and fisheries.

Warming is also attributed to the ferocity of hurricanes and storms that we are witnessing.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN led World’s Ocean Conference, which concluded in June this year, altered global consciousness and highlighted the problems facing the oceans ranging from marine pollution to illegal and over fishing, from ocean acidification to lack of high seas governance and above all warming.

The Conference concluded that the sustainable management of ocean resources will reduce poverty, increase prosperity and economic growth, enhance food security and help us fight against the negative impacts of climate change. The Conference produced a comprehensive and actionable range of solutions.

It was a major success in laying a pathway for the sustainable management of oceans and the implementation of Goal 14.

Time has come to implement the Call for Action made by the Conference.

This is particularly important for Small Island Developing States and coastal Least Developed Countries as they often solely depend on ocean for their livelihood.

Oceans – either by way of tourism or food, contribute nearly 25% or more to the economies of the Small Island Developing States economies. Warming oceans or the continued unsustainable consumption of Oceans can only undermine their economies and prospects of meeting the SDGs.

So, for these countries to get economic benefit from the ocean, the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism is essential.

To guarantee these benefits, several elements are needed:

First, a stronger national framework on implementing SDG14 and its coherence with all other SDGs. Effective national legal and policy frameworks, as well as requisite national institutions and cooperation mechanisms are vital;

Second, enhanced conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea;

Third, increased cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination at all levels through stakeholder involvement and empowerment.

Finally, changed consumption and production patterns which are damaging the world’s oceans, particularly through land-based sources of pollution and over fishing.

Last week, the Secretary-General appointed Ambassador Peter Thomson as his Special Envoy for the Ocean.


 Ambassador Thomson will, with support from Member States, the Secretariat and the UN system, continue to work on galvanizing the outcomes of the Ocean Conference, spearhead the follow-up, and encourage monitoring and evaluation of advances in the sustainable management of ocean resources.

I take this opportunity to thank Norway for your announcement of support, including funding support, to the Special Envoy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Without the ocean there would be no life on Earth.

If we prove to be good stewards, the world’s oceans and seas it will continue to be invaluable sources of well-being for the whole of humanity for our generation and those to come.

Thank you.

CONTINUE READING: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/dsg/statement/2017-09-20/deputy-secreta...

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Publication date: 
Publication Organisation: 
United Nations
Publication Author: 
The UN Deputy Secretary-General