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Flagship UN ocean summit to mobilise action to reverse marine degradation

The United Nations has said that it will bring together Heads of States, Heads of Governments and other high-level delegates, representatives from civil society organisations, the business community, intergovernmental and UN agencies as well as renowned personalities, and other ocean and marine life advocates at the Ocean Conference on June 5 to 9, 2017 in New York to spur action to improve the state of the world’s oceans.

Plastics

Ocean pollution (or marine litter) by plastics and plastic particles is a major marine degradation concern

With the health and sustainability of the global ocean sharply deteriorating, the Conference, says the UN, comes at a critical moment.

“Human activities are having major impacts on the ocean, affecting everything from the viability of marine habitats to the quality and temperature of the water, the health of marine life, and the continued availability of seafood. Ocean deterioration has broader implications as it affects poverty eradication, economic growth, sustainable livelihoods and employment, global food security, human health and climate regulation – many of the critical goals needed to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” the global body disclosed in a statement.

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The Ocean Conference, said to the first UN conference of its kind on the issue, will focus on achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14, highlighting the need to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Mandated by the UN General Assembly, the Conference was originally scheduled to take place in Fiji. But Cyclone Winston caused heavy damage to the island in 2016 and the Conference was moved to New York. The Governments of Fiji and Sweden are co-hosting the Conference, and Fiji will kick it off with a special cultural ceremony at 5 June 5, prior to the formal opening.

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The five-day Conference will result in a global call for action by UN Member States – a concise, focused and concrete declaration to advance action towards a more sustainable future for the ocean. The Conference will also generate hundreds of new commitments for action. More than 290 voluntary commitments have been made so far in the lead-up to the Conference and many more are expected, showcasing critical initiatives undertaken by countries, businesses or people, individually or in partnership, including Governments, the UN system, civil society and the private sector.

There will also be final report of the Conference, which will include the co-chairs’ summary of the seven partnership dialogues, focusing on marine pollution, ocean acidification, conservation of oceans and their resources as well as marine and coastal ecosystems, sustainable fisheries, marine technology and issues concerning Small Island Developing States and least developed countries that depend on the oceans for their livelihood.

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Kicking off the week-long Conference will be the World Ocean Festival – a public event which will take place at New York City’s Governors Island on June 4.  The Festival, which is free and open to the public, will offer views of a parade of boats from Pier 64 on the Hudson River, around the southern tip of Manhattan and past the UN on the East River. The Festival will host activities for all and feature conversations with the world’s leading experts in ocean science, conservation and advocacy. The Festival is hosted by the City of New York and organised by the Global Brain Foundation.

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