Editor’s Note: This year’s UN Ocean Conference, co-hosted by Portugal and Kenya, began on June 27 (soon after the World Ocean Day earlier this month) and ends today, July 1. Global leaders representing UN member states, private sector companies and civil society at the UN Ocean Conference affirmed the urgent need to invest in ocean protection and restoration, with the increasing severity of the linked crises of climate change and declining ocean health intensifying calls for swift, transformational change in the months ahead.
We are happy to report here WWF’s take on the Conference.
The Conference underscored the severity of the multiple threats facing the world’s ocean, including overfishing, plastic pollution and climate change.
New figures released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization show that 35.4% of fish populations are overfished, up from 10% in the 1970s.
Among the participants at the conference, WWF was the most vocal, calling on leaders to seize the momentum created at the conference and resolve long-standing issues surrounding the protection of the high seas, plastic pollution and harmful fisheries subsidies by putting in place and ratifying swiftly robust global treaties.
Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International, had this to tell the delegates:
“Restoring ocean health requires urgent action at all levels, from all sectors – local to global. We have no time left for incremental change. There is no doubt that from the last Ocean Conference in 2017 the ocean has risen in political, corporate, and social agendas. But the ocean, climate and coastal communities worldwide need real progress, not promises when it comes to ocean health.” (bolding added)
“This week we welcome important commitments to expand protection for marine and coastal ecosystems, and to safeguard the ocean commons, like the deep sea, against emerging threats, ” he said. In particular, WWF commended actions that go above and beyond previously stated commitments, such as Colombia announcing new protections for its land and waters, achieving a target to protect 30% of the country eight years before its goal date of 2030.
Likewise, the initiative of several Pacific Island nations on forging an alliance for a global moratorium on deep-sea mining was welcome. This emphasizes the deep social, cultural and economic links between their people and the ocean. A moratorium on this destructive extractive industry is urgently needed and is something WWF is actively supporting.
“We leave Lisbon with great momentum, but the real test of success for the second UN Ocean Conference will come in the months ahead. WWF wants to see global policies like robust new treaties for the high seas and plastics, continued action to curb harmful fisheries subsidies and achieving 30% protection of the world’s ocean,” said Pepe Clarke, Oceans Practice Lead, WWF International.
To support accelerated action, WWF called on political leaders and the finance sector to scale up investment in ocean restoration and climate solutions for coastal communities.
“Local solutions must also receive investment in order to scale up and have lasting benefits for communities. This means expanding the rights of small-scale fishers to manage the resources on which they depend, and other sustainable development pathways.”
WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million followers and a global network active in nearly 100 countries with a mission to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit panda.org/news for the latest WWF news and media resources; follow WWF on Twitter @WWF_media
In the featured image: Mr. Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, joins the daily press briefing at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference on 30 June 2022. Source: UN Flickr