The ocean covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, is the planet’s largest biosphere, and is home to up to 80 percent of all life in the world. It generates 50 percent of the oxygen we need, absorbs 25 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions and captures 90 percent of the additional heat generated from those emissions. It is not just ‘the lungs of the planet’ but also its largest carbon sink – a vital buffer against the impacts of climate change.
The science is clear – the ocean is facing unprecedented threats as a result of human activities. Its health and ability to sustain life will only get worse as the world population grows and human activities increase. If we want to address some of the most defining issues of our time such as climate change, food insecurity, diseases and pandemics, diminishing biodiversity, economic inequality and even conflicts and strife, we must act now to protect the state of our ocean.
The UN Ocean Conference, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, comes at a critical time as the world is seeking to address the many of the deep-rooted problems of our societies laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and which will require major structural transformations and common shared solutions that are anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To mobilize action, the Conference will seek to propel much needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action.
In October 2021, the UN Ocean Action newsletter highlighted the key role blue food will play in global food system transformation and meeting the SDGs. The UN Ocean Conference is a critical forum to discuss challenges and opportunities to achieving this transformation that is healthy and sustainable, as well as just.