Oceans Day 2021 – Messages from Custodians of the Ocean

For World Oceans Day, a Small Island States’ stand against plastic pollution has garnered a swift and enthusiastic response at the UN.

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  • Oceans
  • Statement

Amb. Dr. Walton Webson (Chair of AOSIS) – The ocean is home to the greatest biodiversity on earth and is the main source of protein for over 1 billion people around the world. It’s also the source of at least 50% of Earth’s oxygen. For small island developing states (SIDS) everywhere the ocean is the key resource that connects us. No matter where we are located, the ocean is intimately tied to our cultures, food supply, economies and general way of life. SIDS livelihoods are and will continue to be at risk if we don’t put a stop to the devastation of the ocean.

Kristal Ambrose (Director of the Bahamas Plastic Warriors) – We’ve endangered the ocean’s biodiversity and its ability to sustain us with our over consumption and unsustainable lifestyles practices. Probably worst of these is our dangerous addiction to plastic. There are around 150 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean, impacting over 800 marine species and destroying entire ecosystems. We have spent decades trying to address this issue from various angles, across various instruments. Clearly these ad hoc approaches have not worked. We need a dedicated global instrument to guide urgent and transformative actions before it’s too late. All the pieces matter.

Amb. Jane Chigiyal (Permanent Representative of the Federated States of Micronesia) – Tipping points occur when global warming pushes temperatures past a critical threshold, resulting in rapid and irreversible consequences. The science has shown that some massive ice sheets have already reached their tipping points. Sea level rise is no longer a matter of if, but when. Are we as a planet prepared to treat fairly with the inevitable land loss that the most vulnerable, our Pacific atoll nations in particular, will suffer?

Amb. Carlos Michelin (Dominican Republic) – Our coral reefs are another massively important marine ecosystem under dire threat. Coral reefs are more than just a pretty sight for tourists to enjoy: they provide essential eco-services to SIDS, including important adaptation protections from the impacts of climate change. Sadly for these natural wonders, a global temperature rise of only 1.5C can potentially wipe out 90% of all the world’s coral reefs through coral bleaching.
Restoring Coral Reefs – YouTube

Amb. Peter Thompson (Special Envoy on Oceans) – The nexus therefore between the ocean and climate change therefore cannot be made clearer. The ocean is our best defender against climate change, shielding us from its worst effects, yet at the same time suffers immensely for it. By helping our oceans, we help ourselves. Ocean Action is Climate Action. SIDS will continue to be of the strongest voices and advocates for sustainable resources to save and restore the ocean.

Angelique Pouponneau (CEO, Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust) – Beyond this, SIDS economies have always relied on a thriving ocean. And more and more our political leaders have begun to more explicitly incorporate blue economy initiatives into their economic models. The blue economy concept goes beyond viewing the ocean economy solely as a mechanism for economic growth however. It guarantees the sustainable use of ocean resources while enabling economic growth; the idea is to improve livelihoods, and secure jobs all while preserving the health of the ocean. The Covid 19 pandemic has decimated our economies. Perhaps harnessing the power of the Blue Economy can bring us back to solvency?