Ocean Action Hub

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Five things you should know about disposable masks and plastic pollution

6 Aug 2020 - The fight against plastic pollution is being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the use of disposable masks, gloves and other protective equipment soars, but UN agencies and par

6 Aug 2020 - The fight against plastic pollution is being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the use of disposable masks, gloves and other protective equipment soars, but UN agencies and partners insist that, if effective measures are put into place, the amount of plastics discarded every year can be significantly cut, or even eliminated.

1) Pollution driven by huge increase in mask sales

The promotion of mask wearing as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19 has led to an extraordinary increase in the production of disposable masks: the UN trade body, UNCTAD, estimates that global sales will total some $166 billion this year, up from around $800 million in 2019.

Recent media reports, showing videos and photos of divers picking up masks and gloves, littering the waters around the French Riviera, were a wake-up call for many, refocusing minds on the plastic pollution issue, and a reminder that politicians, leaders and individuals need to address the problem of plastic pollution.



2) A toxic problem

If historical data is a reliable indicator, it can be expected that around 75 per cent of the used masks, as well as other pandemic-related waste, will end up in landfills, or floating in the seas. Aside from the environmental damage, the financial cost, in areas such as tourism and fisheries, is estimated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) at around $40 billion.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/07/1069151

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Bringing the coral reefs back to life

13 July 2020 - UN News - Coral reefs are being killed by the climate crisis, which is leading to rising sea temperatures.

13 July 2020 - UN News - Coral reefs are being killed by the climate crisis, which is leading to rising sea temperatures. “Cryopreservation”, a pioneering scientific technique, is being used to create the “Book of Life” for coral and could be one way to help save them.

A tiny piece of coral is stuck to a thin sheet of plastic, and submerged in a tank at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology on Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay, on the island archipelago. This is part of a unique process which includes the cryopreservation [the use of very low temperatures to preserve living cells and tissues] of sperm, larvae and tissue, to create what has been called the “Book of Life” for coral.

Marine biologists, working on land and in the water, collect sperm and eggs from reefs during their annual spawning events, in the warm tropical water surrounding palm-fringed Coconut Island, and then in labs, where they prepare the coral for cryopreservation.

Ground-breaking techniques

Mary Hagedorn, a senior research scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, leads the team at the Institute which is pioneering these techniques. 

“Cryopreservation is a relatively new field of science originating in the late 1940s, but was only first used to preserve human embryos in the early 1980s and then eggs at the end of the 90s,” she told UN News on a visit to Coconut Island.

“We have been working for the last 16 years on adapting those techniques to successfully preserve coral sperm, and also coral larvae, to store in living frozen bio-repositories, and help restore reefs now and potentially reseed the ocean in the future. We're really collecting the Book of Life for coral reefs, and that's significant.”

Coral reefs across the world are being threatened by climate change. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that about 25 to 50 per cent of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed and another 60 per cent are under threat. 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/06/1065632

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2020: the year for action, to ‘rise up’ and safeguard ocean life

9 Mar 2020 - António Guterres, UN Secretary-General - Our oceans are under assult. We need science-based, innovative solutions to save our ocean and the future of our plant.

With the ocean in deep crisis, members of civil society and philanthropic organisations are urging governments and corporations to take bold action to safeguard the ocean.  After a two-day preparatory meeting in New York in February ahead of June’s UN Ocean Conference in Portugal, activists handed over what they termed “A Blue Call to Action” to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. 

Multiple stressors are eroding the ocean’s ability to function as the planet’s life support system, and so defending its capacity to produce oxygen, sequester carbon and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people is vital, delegates heard.  

With that in mind, in May last year, the Oceano Azul Foundation partnered with Ocean Unite and Oak Foundation to bring together representatives of fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, ocean conservation organizations and foundations, to agree on common priorities and solutions needed to tackle the ocean crisis and raise the level of ambition for action. 

Gathering ministers and representatives from civil society organizations, the business community, intergovernmental and United Nations agencies, the preparatory meeting of the UN Ocean Conference took place in New York this week, defining key areas of ocean action, and aiming to drive governments and other key decision-makers to deliver on their commitments. 

During the preparatory meeting, co-chaired by the Governments of Palau and Denmark, Tiago Pitta e Cunha, CEO of Oceano Azul Foundation, said that “the decisions needed to address the ocean crisis had been delayed for too long” similar to action on climate change. 

Highlighting the need to agree on concrete actions, he added that “now is the time to push tirelessly for such actions”.

The Ocean Conference, taking place in Lisbon from 2 to 6 June, aims to propel science-based innovative solutions in the form of global ocean action.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/02/1056792

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Protecting migratory species in a rapidly changing world: CMS COP13

19 Feb 2020 - Many fish, birds and mammals migrate along set routes in search of food or breeding grounds.

19 Feb 2020 - Many fish, birds and mammals migrate along set routes in search of food or breeding grounds. How best to protect them in a rapidly changing world is the focus of a major UN wildlife meeting which opened in Gandhinagar, India, on Monday.

The Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, or CMS COP13, is taking place as the world faces the threat of losing one million species to extinction unless protective efforts are increased. 

“COP13 comes at a critical time for wildlife conservation, with continued downward trends of habitat loss and species decline,” said CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel.

“The conference will set in motion actions needed to better protect migratory species that rely on multilateral cooperation for their survival.”

Continue reading online here: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/02/1057511

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Ocean Conference has potential to be a ‘global game-changer’

6 Feb 2020 - The second global Ocean Conference taking place in Portugal in June promises to be “a critical moment” for the health

of life under water and on land, the President of the UN General Assembly said on Tuesday, as preparations got underway.

Life under water is essential to life on land”, said Tijjani Muhammad-Bande. The ocean produces “half of the oxygen we breathe” and provides food for millions of around the world, playing a “fundamental role in mitigating climate change as a major heat and carbon sink”.

The Ocean Conference, which will run in Lisbon from 2 to 6 June, aims to propel science-based innovative solutions in the form of global ocean action.

The worldwide ocean economy is valued at around $1.5 trillion dollars annually, as aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector and 350 million jobs world-wide are linked to fisheries.
“A healthy marine environment holds untold potential for achieving the entirety of the Sustainable Development Agenda”, he said. “Yet the unsustainable use – and misuse – of ocean resources, climate change, and pollution all threaten the ability of our ocean to provide for us all”.

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UN oceans treaty ‘essential’ to combat ‘unprecedented pressure’ on the ocean – UNSG

18 Jun 2019 - The ocean is under “unprecedented pressure” due to climate change, António Guterres said to the meeting of countries party to the UN CLOS.

18 Jun 2019 - The ocean is not only under “unprecedented pressure” due to climate change, but “half of all living coral has been lost in the past 150 years”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday, addressing the latest gathering of nations which are party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“Conflicting demands from industry, fishing, shipping, mining and tourism are creating unsustainable levels of stress on marine and coastal ecosystems”, he laid out, adding “we must act across an array of sectors to address these challenges”.

Pointing to the UN Law of the Sea Convention as “one of our best tools”, Mr. Guterres appealed to all States Parties to “approach the task of the Convention’s full implementation with renewed commitment and vigour”.

“Let us be the generation that reverses the cycle of continuous decline in our oceans and ensures their conservation and sustainable use, for the benefit of current and future generations”, concluded the Secretary-General.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/06/1040641

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Promoting gender equality ‘crucial contribution’ to restore, protect our ocean

10 Jun 2019 - Women are engaged in all aspects of interaction with our ocean, yet their voices are often missing at the decision-making level, the head of the United Nations cultural agenc

10 Jun 2019 - Women are engaged in all aspects of interaction with our ocean, yet their voices are often missing at the decision-making level, the head of the United Nations cultural agency said on World Oceans Day, emphasizing that “we must ensure diversity and gender inclusiveness at all levels” to set a balanced course for humanity and foster innovative solutions for the ocean.

“We need to empower each and every citizen to take care of the ocean and enable all women to play transformative and ambitious roles in understanding, exploring, protecting and sustainably managing our ocean”, said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, pointing out that this year’s “special edition” of World Oceans Day links the themes of gender equality and ocean preservation.

Women engage in all aspects of ocean interaction, yet in many parts of the world, women’s contribution, both towards ocean-based livelihoods like fishing, and conservation efforts, are invisible and, gender inequality persists “from the marine industry to the field of ocean science”.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/06/1040091