Environmental News from the USA:
- The second United Nations Oceans Conference took place from June 27 to July 1 in Lisbon, focusing on the protection of life underwater, as dictated by U.N. Sustainable Development Goal No. 14.
- The conference was originally meant to have taken place in 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- While nations, NGOs, and other entities made hundreds of conservation commitments, including pledges to expand marine protected areas, end destructive fishing practices, and fund conservation efforts, experts say there is still a lot of work to be done to protect our oceans.
- Coalitions of small-scale fishers and Indigenous peoples also voiced their concerns about being excluded from important conservation dialogues.
The United Nations Oceans Conference (UNOC) concluded on July 1 in Lisbon after a full five days of discussions and events focused on achieving a shared goal: U.N. Sustainable Development Goal No. 14 (SDG14), which aims to protect life below water. While representatives of governments, NGOs, and other entities made hundreds of conservation commitments, experts say that there is still a lot of work to be done to protect our oceans.
SDG14 has been divided into 10 targets: reduce marine pollution; protect and restore ecosystems; reduce ocean acidification; ensure that fishing is done sustainably; conserve coastal and marine areas; end subsidies that contribute to harmful fishing practices; increase economic benefits from the sustainable use of marine resources; increase scientific knowledge, research, and technology for ocean health; support small-scale fishers; and implement and enforce international law pertaining to the sea. Some of the targets were meant to be achieved in 2020, whereas others are to be addressed by 2030.
Peter Thomson, the U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for the ocean, said during a press briefing on June 25 that achieving these goals was essential for “our survival on the planet.”
“You can’t have a healthy planet without the ocean, and the ocean’s health is immeasurably in decline,” Thomson said. However, he added he’s seen a “wave of positivity” as nations realized the severity of the situation and turned their attention to ocean conservation efforts.
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