The 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 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.
Solutions for a sustainably managed ocean involve green technology and innovative uses of marine resources. They also include addressing the threats to health, ecology, economy and governance of the ocean - acidification, marine litter and pollution, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the loss of habitats and biodiversity.
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.
It nurtures unimaginable biodiversity and produces food, jobs, mineral and energy resources needed for life on the planet to survive and thrive. There is a great deal we still do not know about the ocean but there are many reasons why we need to manage it sustainably - as set out in the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.
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.