World now facing “ocean emergency” that could harm 2030 Agenda, UN chief claims

World now facing "ocean emergency" that could harm 2030 Agenda, UN chief claims

World now facing "ocean emergency" that could harm 2030 Agenda, UN chief claims. Image: Twitter @antonioguterres

SPEAKING at the Ocean Conference in Portugal, United Nations (UN) chief António Guterres said that the world is now facing an “ocean emergency” and has urged world leaders to write current wrongs.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the conference at the Lisbon Altice Arena Convention Centre that the ‘world has taken the ocean for granted, and now we face an ocean emergency.’

“We have taken the ocean for granted, and now we face an ocean emergency. I am urging all participants at the UN Ocean Conference to right these wrongs & do our part for the ocean. We must take action & turn the tide,” the 73-year-old said on Monday, June 27.

According to Mr Guterres, the “ocean emergency” threatens both nature and humanity, and it “could have a ripple effect across the entire 2030 Agenda.”

“Today, I would call it an ocean emergency,” he said at the UN Ocean Conference’s Youth and Innovation Forum in Lisbon, Portugal on Monday, June 27.

“We must turn the tide.”

The UN Secretary-General believes that although eight million tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year, climate change has disrupted ocean food chains and created vast dead zones.

“Global heating is pushing ocean temperatures to record levels, creating fiercer and more frequent storms,” he said.

“Sea levels are rising. Low-lying island nations face inundation, as do many major coastal cities in the world.

“The climate crisis is also making the ocean more acidic, which is disrupting the marine food chain.”

He added: “Evermore coral reefs are bleaching and dying. Coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, seagrasses and wetlands, are being degraded.

“Pollution from land is creating vast coastal dead zones.

“Nearly 80 per cent of wastewater is discharged into the sea without treatment and some 8 million tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year,” he said.

Speaking at the two-day event, which brought together hundreds of young people from 165 countries, all with the same goal of protecting the ocean, the Portuguese politician said: “Without drastic action, this plastic could outweigh all the fish in the oceans by 2050.

“Plastic waste is now found in the most remote areas and deepest ocean trenches.

“It kills marine life and is doing major harm to communities that depend on fishing and tourism.

“One mass of plastic in the Pacific is bigger than France.

“Unsustainable fishing practices are also rampant. Overfishing is crippling fish stocks.”

He then provided world leaders with a rallying cry to focus on the 2030 Agenda.

“We cannot have a healthy planet without a healthy ocean,” he said.

“Our failure to care for the ocean will have ripple effects across the entire 2030 Agenda.

“The ocean produces more than half of the oxygen we breathe.

“It is the main source of sustenance for more than one billion people.

“And industries relating to the ocean employ some 40 million people.

“And, a healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future,” he said.

With regards to climate change as mentioned by Mr Guterres, a recent study showed that climate change even affected the likelihood and duration of armed conflicts in Africa, according to the Spanish National Research Council on Wednesday, June 22.

The climate change study stated that a prolonged rise in temperature and precipitation increased the probability of conflict beyond the affected area by a factor of four to five, specifically in populations located within a radius of up to 550 kilometres.

The climate change study also concluded that in Africa, food shortages due to drought increase the likelihood of conflict, especially if water shortages persist for at least three years. Conversely, excess rainfall triggers conflict, but in a very short time frame.

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Written by

Matthew Roscoe

Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at