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For Healthy Oceans, Three Problems to Resolve


Biodiversity will decrease in the world’s oceans as invasive species move into new geographic regions. (File)

The health of our ocean was part of the Sustainable Development Summit at the recently-held 70th session of the UN General Assembly. Members adopted a blueprint that will guide global development over the next 15 years.

The world’s ocean is the earth’s greatest resource. It produces much of our oxygen, regulates our climate, and supports the greatest abundance of life on our planet. All life is inextricably tied to it, so if the ocean were to disappear today, nearly every creature, every plant, would soon follow.

Nonetheless, we humans have not been the best caretakers of our ocean, wrote Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli in a recent article. The world's fish stocks are depleted and continue to be overfished, plastic debris is choking our waters, and the carbon we are pumping into the air is increasing water acidity.

So we are doing something about it. The health of our ocean was part of the Sustainable Development Summit at the recently-held 70th session of the UN General Assembly. Members adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a blueprint that will guide global development over the next 15 years. In doing so, they pledged to work toward conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and marine resources.

Following on the heels of the UN conference is the Our Ocean Conference, which recently took place in Santiago, Chile. 500 representatives of governments, academia, the private sector and civil society worked to find solutions to overfishing, plastic pollution and ocean acidification.

They are continuing the work begun at the first Our Ocean Conference, which took place in Washington last year. At the time, participants from 90 countries announced new partnerships and initiatives and committed to promote sustainable fisheries; reduce pollution; monitor and prevent acidification; and pledged to protect over 3 million square kilometers of the ocean.

“There is a growing understanding that a healthy and resilient ocean will help drive widespread and shared prosperity, including economic, food, energy security, and will ensure the health of our planet for generations to come,” said Undersecretary Novelli. “The United States and its partners around the world have been working together to tackle challenges such as ocean acidification, unsustainable fishing, and marine debris. And we’ve made a lot of progress, and so our momentum going forward is only going stronger.”

For more information on this topic, please visit the Our Oceans website at www.state.gov/ourocean.

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