Youth around the world, including from the Youth for Our Planet movement, are calling for urgent action on the health of the ocean.
The global ocean is in crisis, exhausted and is undergoing the extinction crisis affecting species around the world. As a result of decades of intensifying human exploitation and anthropogenic global heating it is experiencing a range of significant threats that pose catastrophic consequences for all life on Earth. This is not only disastrous for our planet’s biodiversity, but also for humanity, as we are intimately tied to our blue planet through an abundance of connections.
It is the UN decade on Ecosystem Restoration and for Ocean Science. It is the decade when we must take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis, harming nature, including humanity. Restoring the health of the ocean will be crucial to both of these agendas – for biodiversity, ecosystems and the climate. A healthy ocean is paramount for the sustainable future of both humanity and the rest of the living world, so it would be wildly irresponsible to not take the essential action to provide it with the necessary enforced management and protection it requires. The ocean helps to regulate the climate and supports the livelihoods of people, flora and fauna.
The high seas lie beyond areas of national jurisdiction of any country and cover almost half of the planet’s surface. As a global commons they belong to both no one and to everyone, and until recently believed to be a ‘marine desert’. In fact, research has shown the high seas are home to extremely diverse, abundant and important populations of marine wildlife. We know more about the surface of the moon than our own ocean, and yet we continue to degrade it. Current attempts to protect or manage the ocean have fallen drastically short of what is needed. With each passing moment we are destroying new scientific discoveries, not only of species, but also potential medical and technological advances which could be beneficial to billions around the globe.
Youth for Our Planet is calling for a strong treaty that covers the high seas and encourages all nations to become signatories in this crucial move to safeguarding our ocean. It presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for ocean conservation and restoration that we must not allow to slip away. Protecting and restoring the global ocean is not only necessary for the biodiversity that calls it home, but also the three billion people worldwide who depend on it for food security, economic prosperity, wellbeing, and their sense of cultural identity.
For the future of our global ocean it is imperative that the UN Global Ocean Treaty empowers governments around the world to create a network of fully protected, monitored and managed, ocean sanctuaries within international waters. It is vital that these places of refuge are more than just lines on a map. In order for our global ocean to recover, these new sanctuaries must be fully enforced, monitored and managed in line with scientific advice.
We are calling for:
We are demanding governments around the world take urgent action to provide the precious biodiversity inhabiting the global ocean, and that yet to be discovered, with the opportunity to recover from humanity’s activities and exploitation before it is too late. Otherwise we rob future generations of a healthy ocean and the chance to experience and benefit from its vast riches. Include the wellbeing of future generations in each important decision.
In the words of Dr. Sylvia Earle, “No water, no life. No blue, no green.”