Ocean Action is Climate Action

Have you ever thought that the health of the planet depends on the health of the ocean? In addition to playing a key role in regulating the climate and the water cycle, the ocean also plays an important role in the production of oxygen and the absorption of greenhouse gases, namely carbon. Half of the oxygen on the planet is produced by the ocean. From tiny, microscopic algae in the ocean water to seaweeds and seagrasses, they all produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. The ocean currents transport heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns. It absorbs about 90% of the heat from the sun’s rays that hit the Earth’s surface. Without the ocean, humans would no longer be able to live on Earth.

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We are currently facing a biodiversity crisis. The ocean needs urgent protection and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an effective tool to save what is left and restores marine systems, thus benefiting present and future generations. Only 7% of the ocean is protected through MPAs, and less than 3% are fully or highly protected. To assure a healthy, productive, and resilient marine environment, at least 30% of the world’s ocean must be fully or highly protected by 2030 in efficient, connected, and representative networks of MPAs. This target, recommended by the scientists, is known as #30by30.

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Blue carbon is the currency of the future, it is the carbon captured and stored in marine ecosystems.

The ocean is the largest carbon store on the planet. Like land-based ecosystems, carbon is emitted back into the atmosphere when the marine environment is destroyed, thereby contributing to climate change. However, the ocean is not usually acknowledged as an important carbon reservoir and consequently, it is not integrated in mitigation policies for climate change strategies. Some examples of blue carbon ecosystems are mangroves, marshes, estuaries, seagrass meadows. There are also species like whales and molluscs that capture and store high amounts of carbon during their lives.

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The ocean is the foundation of life. It is an extraordinary and largely unexplored place, teeming with fascinating marine biodiversity which, together with currents and natural systems, shape our planet. The ocean provides us with food and livelihoods for billions of people, it is restorative, it calms and connects us. The positive impact it can have on our wellbeing is immense and often underestimated.

From June 27 to July 1, Lisbon will host the UN Ocean Conference, organized by the United Nations and co-hosted by the Governments of Portugal and Kenya. The overarching theme of the Conference is “Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions”.

The Conference has the objective of mobilizing global support for ocean protection and conservation as well as for the sustainable use of marine resources. It provides an opportunity for civil society to meaningfully contribute towards the protection and conservation of one of our planets vital systems.

Oceano Azul Foundation believes in driving change for ocean sustainability by pushing the international community (United Nation Member States) to act, as the lack of action has been a key reason for the current ocean crisis. Therefore, some aspirations it has for the UN Ocean Conference are:

– Establish a network of fully or highly protected and conserved areas that cover at least 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030.

– Adopt a new legally-binding UN agreement on high seas biodiversity that ensures robust protection;

– Prioritise territorial waters for sustainable small-scale fishers, achieve transparency and combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

 

Our progression towards a more sustainable future depends on how we protect the ocean.