UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke (video and transcript) to parties of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on Monday, marking the 25th anniversary of the convention by urging greater conservation of the world’s oceans.
The Secretary-General emphasized the current decline of the world’s oceans providing statistics and stating:
Today, the oceans are under unprecedented pressure … The consequences of these pressures are already being felt by low-lying coastal States, small island developing States and coastal communities … But, declining ocean health ultimately affects us all. So, while I am encouraged by increasing recognition of the plight of the oceans, much more action is required.
The Secretary-General championed the Sustainable Development Goals as the guide to combating the issues facing the well-being of the oceans. The Goals have a target for completion of 2030, and the Secretary-General emphasized Goal 14 for this meeting as it pertains to the world’s oceans.
Guterres identified that Goal 14 “specifically calls for enhancement of the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the Convention.”
Among the aims of Goal 14, Guterres emphasized the need for gender equality and improved working conditions in industries involving the oceans, to protect populations that depend on the ocean for economic survival and to “increase the participation of women in decision-making and resource management.”
The Secretary-General concluded his remarks by calling the participating countries into action:
I also appeal to all States Parties to approach the task of the Convention’s full implementation with renewed commitment and vigour. Let us be the generation that reverses the cycle of continuous decline in our oceans and ensures that conservation and sustainable use, for the benefit of current and future generations takes place.