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Jeannette Pérez Fernández : From “Words to Action”: World Oceans Day
By Sea and Coast | 04/06/2021

Foster an Oceanic Culture:

It will allow building a healthy and prosperous future for all...

Words to Action”: World Oceans Day

Climate change, overfishing, habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, pollution and other problems are damaging the health of the oceans. For years the United Nations (UN) and the international community have carried out different activities that damage marine life, harm coastal communities and affect human health, although there are important advances, various studies indicate that the ocean faces unprecedented threats : What actions are being carried out? How would the Decade of the Oceans contribute to advancing the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans?

In 2017 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the first Conference on Oceans took place, the purpose was to promote the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14), aimed at conserving and sustainably using the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources: “Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action”.

It is precisely in 2017, at the Conference on the Oceans that 193, Member States of the United Nations committed to a set of ambitious measures to reverse the deterioration of the health of the oceans. This commitment would be assumed not only by governments and the United Nations system, but also by civil society organizations, the academic world, the scientific community and the private sector, signifying a global advance in the management and conservation of oceans and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 14).

The "Conference of the Oceans" is part of the efforts of the United Nations (UN) to meet the (17) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the 2030 Agenda, and specifically SDG 14 "Conserve and use in a sustainable way the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

In the year 2020, the States had planned to hold the Conference on the Oceans, but in view of the global health problem of COVID-19, it was suspended and given the circumstances, it is unlikely that it will take place in 2021. The general theme of the Conference would cover: "Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: balance, partnerships and solutions."

One way to remind the world of the situation that the oceans present is the celebration of "World Oceans Day", every June 8, an idea that emerged at the Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, later adopted by a resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2008, after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, since then every year all countries celebrate an Oceans Day.

What is World Oceans Day?

It is an intergovernmental summit organized within the framework of the United Nations, to join forces between countries to mobilize resources and propose and implement solutions to protect the oceans, spaces where some of the worst consequences of climate change and pollution are increasingly being observed.

"The science we need for the ocean we want"

The different meetings and conferences sponsored by the Member States of the (UN), which have the support of groups of experts, consider that it is “time to move from words to actions”, to conserve and use our oceans in a sustainable way, seas and marine resources. Important projects are being carried out and others are being developed around the world, although data provided by the same world organization shows that the protection of seas and oceans needs urgent action.

On the basis of data collected around the world, the United Nations, together with a group of experts, has prepared the "World Report on Ocean Sciences 2020" which allows to follow the evolution of the capacity to understand the ocean and take advantage of new opportunities. The changes that are taking place in the oceans and the different measures that are adopted, as indicated by this instrument, need scientific knowledge to help reverse the damage caused to the ocean and its deteriorating health.

UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is one of the most important institutions promoting international cooperation in ocean science in order to improve the management of the ocean, coasts and marine resources. Different actions from different sources seek to promote advances in science and its applications to develop knowledge and capacities, especially to promote an ocean culture that contributes to the development of capacities in ocean sciences.

The United Nations, just presented in April 2021, "The Second World Ocean Assessment", in its regular process of reporting and global assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects, this assessment allows to periodically examine the environmental, economic and social aspects of the world's oceans, whose essential purpose is to contribute to the strengthening of theperiodic scientific assessment of the state of the marine environment in order to improve the scientific basis for policy formulation.

The importance of the aforementioned Report is that it provides the necessary information for the indicator of the target SDG 14a., In addition to serving as a coherent reference at the beginning of the "United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development" (2021-2030 ), and that, in its UNESCO / IOC report, (2019), it indicates that the Decade presents a unique opportunity to provide scientific knowledge, promote technological innovation and develop the capacity to implement the 2030 Agenda and reverse the deterioration of health oceanic.

"The actions of the Decade are the concrete initiatives that will be carried out around the world during the next ten years to fulfill the vision of the Decade." In addition to promoting the international cooperation necessary for the development of scientific research and the application of innovative technologies that can link ocean science with the needs of society.

These actions, which are expected to take place during the Decade, comprise a broad spectrum of promoters and stakeholders, including research institutes, governments, United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, other international and regional organizations, the business sector and industrial, philanthropic and business foundations, NGOs, educators, community groups or individuals, among others.

As well as, it is established mainly by the "Execution Plan on the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development 2021-2030", among these are: the development of capacities, data management, information and digital knowledge, in addition to the formation of the so-called “digital ocean ecosystem”.

From this perspective, important academic institutions such as the World Maritime University (WMU) and organizations such as the Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute and the Center for Ocean Law and Policy, are studying problems that take place in the ocean, aspects that are addressed in their publication on “Marine Biodiversity in areas outside the National Jurisdiction” (2021).This important instrument comprehensively reviews aspects such as: “...access to and benefit sharing of marine genetic resources, marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, capacity building and technology transfer, as well as Arctic environmental issues, including security and shipping ”. (p.1)

In any case, more actions are needed from all stakeholders to protect that great body of water that occupies the seas and oceans, which although they cover more than 70% of the planet's surface, are still One of the most important actions that is being developed in the Oceanic Decade (2021-2030), is precisely the conformation of a Global Treaty of the Oceans, through the formation of a United Nations Convention on biodiversity beyond national borders: "Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, (BBNJ)".

The objective is to develop a legally binding international instrument that allows the protection of marine life and habitats in areas outside the national laws, within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which in its article 192 establishes that "States have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment." A way to honor the commitment of the 193 UN member states that will allow international waters to be regulated.

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