UN Ocean Conference calls for sustainable development of oceans

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The first UN Ocean Conference runs from June 5 to June 9. [Photo: UN Photo/Tsagris]

The first UN Ocean Conference has begun at UN headquarters in New York, calling for actions across the world to save and preserve the world's oceans and ocean resources for future generations. Our reporter Qian Shanming has details from UN headquarters.

Co-chaired by Fiji and Sweden, the five-day UN Ocean Conference aims to reverse the decline in the health of the world's oceans, and urges support for the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

On Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the Conference with strong words, saying that the world should shoulder due responsibility to save and preserve the world's oceans for future generations.

"We are here today to turn the tide. We created these problems. With decisive, coordinated global action, we can solve them."

Guterres said that it was his first major UN conference on ocean as Secretary-General, and he promised that the United Nations and he himself would work to ensure the sustainable development of the world's oceans.

"The United Nations has a critical role to play. We are committed to providing integrated, coordinated support for the implementation of all the historic agreements of the past year, including the Sustainable Development Goal of the Oceans. I am determined to break down barriers between UN agencies and programmes, to improve performance and accountability."

Guterres said that improving the health of the world's oceans is a test for multilateralism, and urged concerted efforts from all sectors across the world.

"We need a new strategic vision. I call on all Member States to engage in the dialogue necessary to define a new model for the future governance of our oceans. We must put aside short-term national gain, to prevent long-term global catastrophe. Conserving our oceans and using them sustainably is preserving life itself."

Peter Thomson, President of the 71st UN General Assembly, hailed the UN Ocean Conference as the best opportunity ever to reverse the cycle of decline that human activity has placed on the Ocean.

"Our task at this conference is to ensure that SDG14 receives the support necessary to meet its critical targets. To do that we need to hear the truth about the state of the Ocean, we need to learn about the difficulties it is facing, and most importantly, and we have to assemble the solutions required to overcome those problems. We are here on behalf of humanity to restore sustainability, balance and respect to our relationship with our primal mother, the source of all life, the Ocean."

Thomson said that from here on, parties concerned will push on to the maturation of the SDG14 targets of 2020, 2025 and 2030.

The first UN Ocean Conference, which will run from June 5 to June 9, is expected to reach several outcomes, including a concise, focused, inter-governmentally agreed "Call for Action", a report containing the co-chairs' summaries of the partnership dialogues, and a list of voluntary commitments for the implementation of SGD 14 targets.

For CRI, this is Qian Shanming from the UN headquarters in New York.

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