The United Nations Ocean Conference is currently underway in Portugal’s Lisbon. Ending on 1 July, the conference is attended by heads of state from 20 countries. In the opening speech of the event on 27 June, UN secretary general António Guterres has declared an “ocean emergency” and urged governments to “turn the tide.”
“Sadly, we have taken the ocean for granted and today we face what I would call an ocean emergency. We must turn the tide,” he said.
In more positive news, Colombia’s president Ivan Duque Márquez announced that the country already achieved 30% protection of its ocean which makes Colombia the first nation to achieve its 30×30 promise. The worldwide initiative seeks governments to designate 30% of ocean area and landmass as protected areas by 2030.
The goal was achieved through the expansion of the no-take Malpelo Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna that is a well-known marine highway for sharks, as well as the designation of four Marine Protected Areas in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Currently, under 8% of the world’s oceans are protected and more needs to be done to reach the 30×30 target by 2030.
In March, UN member states failed to agree on a High Seas Treaty that many hoped would give the high seas more protection which was heavily criticised.
This time around at the conference in Lisbon, government officials are urged to come up with specific plans to give better protection to the world’s ocean. How exactly this will be achieved is still unclear. A final draft for a political declaration is expected to be publicised at the end of the conference, while negotiations around the global ocean treaty will take place in August in New York.
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Photography courtesy of Unsplash & Ocean Image Bank / Kimberly Jeffries