World Ocean

World Ocean.jpg
Tare Stortare – Credit Janne K Gitmark NIVA

Wednesday the 7th of June marks the World Oceans Day. Coinciding with the Ocean Conference that is held at UN Headquarters in New York from 5-9 June, they aim to raise the profile of the many threats to the world’s oceans that are affecting people’s lives.

This ranges from land-based pollution to coral bleaching, overfishing, marine habitat degradation, ocean acidification and the impacts of climate change. Healthy oceans are highly important to sustainable development. Pressures on coastal and marine ecosystems continue to increase, as more communities live along coasts, putting an unsustainable strain on coastal resources. The trend is only foreseen to continue given predicted population growth.

Ocean health affects people who live far from the sea as well as those near it. Around 30 per cent of the world’s fish stocks already are over-exploited, while more than 50 per cent are fully exploited. Furthermore, coastal habitats are under pressure, with approximately 20 per cent of the world’s coral reef lost and another 20 per cent degraded. Plastic waste alone kills up to one million sea birds, a hundred thousand sea mammals and countless fish each year. An estimated 80 per cent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. Moreover, vulnerable groups, including the poor, women, children, and indigenous peoples, and coastal communities and countries with a high dependency on the oceans and their marine resources are particularly affected.

The Ocean Conference presents a unique and invaluable opportunity for the world to reverse the dangerous decline of the health of the oceans and seas with concrete solutions. The Conference will also promote progress in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, which is part of the 2030 Agenda adopted by all UN Member States in 2015. The goal calls for efforts to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The Conference aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity. It will therefore be solutions-focused with engagement from all.

This is a priority for Norway in light of the renewed efforts to focus on oceans in our development and foreign policy. In March, Norway released our first ever white paper on the role of the oceans. The white paper gives special priority to three areas: sustainable use and blue growth, clean and healthy oceans, and the role of the blue economy in development policy. Furthermore, the government will set aside NOK 100 million (approximately USD 12 million) for a development programme to combat marine litter and microplastics. The white paper also makes clear that marine research and marine management in developing countries is an area where efforts will be considerably intensified.

To learn more about the Ocean Conference follow this link: https://oceanconference.un.org

To read the white paper in full follow this link:
https://www.regjeringen.no/en/dokumenter/meld.-st.-22-20162017/id2544710/