Threats to Oceans Accelerating, UN Meeting Participants Warn

Wu Hongbo, under-secretary-general for Economic and Social Affairs and secretary-general of the recent conference, said the meeting raised global consciousness of the importance of the oceans and the challenges facing them, including plastic and other pollution, overfishing, and ocean acidification.

Several speakers at the UN Economic and Social Council's High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development last week warned that the well-being of the world's oceans is increasingly at risk. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development's inclusion of an oceans goal was an indication of the reality their health is in jeopardy, said Peter Thomson of Fiji, the president of the United Nations General Assembly. He said a June conference "showed that we are all in this together."

Wu Hongbo, under-secretary-general for Economic and Social Affairs and secretary-general of the conference, said its call for action document was rooted in 22 forward-looking actions, adding that the meeting raised global consciousness of the importance of the oceans and the challenges facing them, including plastic and other pollution, overfishing, and ocean acidification. "It should be seen as the start of our mission to save the ocean," he said.

"We will succeed or fail together when it comes to meeting the [Sustainable Development Goals]," said John Danilovich, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Commerce, during the forum's second panel discussion on the implementation of Goal 9 on infrastructure, industrialization, and innovation. He told participants he had consistently advocated for the Sustainable Development Goals to be regarded as "business development goals" because they contain a clear economic imperative that could increase productivity and employment and lead to stronger economic growth.

Getting enough food for the world's increasing population will be a huge challenge as the world reaches the outer limits of productivity through processes such as gene manipulation and as fertile, arable land becomes increasingly scarce, stressed Magnus Arildsson, head of the Internet of Things Product Management at Ericsson in Sweden.

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