UN warns world faces ’emergency’ in oceans
The acidification of the seas caused by CO2 and the heat waves in the sea continue to maintain the coral reefs, on which 25% of the life in the sea and almost 250 million people depend.
The world faces an “emergency” in the oceans that threatens nature and humanity, said this Monday, the 27th, the Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, at the beginning of an important conference of the organization in Lisbon.
“Today we face what I would call an ocean emergency,” Guterres told thousands of government representatives, experts and environmental activists, before highlighting how the oceans are affected by climate change and pollution.
Humanity depends on the health of the oceans and 50% of the oxygen we breathe is generated in the sea.
Marine life provides essential proteins and nutrients that feed billions of people each day.
Furthermore, as the oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, they cushion the impact of climate change on life on Earth, with a significant associated cost.
Ocean acidification caused by COtwo and sea heat waves, which can last for several months, continue to kill coral reefs, on which 25% of sea life and nearly 250 million people depend.
“We are just beginning to understand the extent to which climate change is wreaking havoc on the health of the oceans,” said Charlotte de Fontaubert, a World Bank official who heads a division focused on the Blue Economy, a term that seeks sustainable exploitation of the seas.
To make matters worse, there is a torrent of pollution, equivalent to the contents of a garbage truck per minute, that floods the waters, calculates the UN program for the environment.
If it continues at the current rate, plastic pollution will triple by 2060. Currently, microplastics kill 1 million seabirds and 100,000 mammals each year.
Conference attendees will discuss solutions ranging from recycling to banning plastic bags outright.
Another crucial topic of the conference, jointly organized by Portugal and Kenya, is overfishing.
“At least a third of the number of wild fish is overfished and less than 10% of the ocean is protected,” Kathryn Mathews, scientific director of the US NGO Oceana, told AFP.
“Illegal fishing boats ravage with total impunity, both in coastal waters and on the high seas”, he highlights.
Protect the seabed
Discussions will also address an eventual moratorium to protect the seabed from the exploitation of rare metals to manufacture batteries for the growing electric vehicle industry.
A coalition that brings together almost 100 countries encourages a measure that declares protection zones to cover 30% of the planet’s oceans and lands.
New ‘leitmotiv’, ‘blue food’ must make the oceans a sustainable and equitable livelihood.
Many ministers and some heads of state will participate in the Lisbon meeting, which, however, is not intended to serve as a session for formal negotiations.
Still, some participants will take the opportunity to defend an ambitious ocean policy targeting two crucial meetings that will take place by the end of the year.
One is the November COP27 UN climate conference in Egypt. The other is the long-awaited United Nations conference on biodiversity COP15, which will take place in Canada and no longer in China.