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Commemoration of World Oceans Day 2020

The United Nations General Assembly has designated June 8 as World Oceans Day. Many countries including The Gambia have celebrated this special day since 1992, following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro. In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as of 2009, 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day”. The Oceans day is observed to inform people of the impact of human actions and develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean. The objective is to mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.

Oceans are of vital importance to the international community, not only for their living and non-living resources and the shipping and other maritime uses they facilitate, but also for the key role they play in the global climate and weather system. The marine environment, its resources, and its biodiversity are increasingly threatened by human activities, both maritime and terrestrial. Anthropogenic climate change, sea-based and land-based pollution, habitat destruction, introduction of alien species, over-exploitation of non-renewable resources, and destructive fishing practices are among the most serious threats. While each of these threats requires dedicated, separate attention, there is increasing wide support for more holistic and integrated governance approaches that take account of the spatial dimension and functioning of ecosystems.

As the challenges to the ocean continue to grow, so does the need for novel solutions and the people driving them. To that end, the theme of UN World Oceans Day 2020 is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”. The theme focuses on the Innovation that relates to the introduction of new methods, ideas, or products. The day provides a unique opportunity not only in honoring but also in conserving and in protecting our ocean. Every year it is observed on this day, to raise global awareness about the importance of the ocean in our lives and the ways through which we can protect it.

The oceans play a vital role in the global climate system, generating oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while also providing essential goods and services for sustaining life on Earth. Changes to the climate, brought about by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, will thus lead to changes in the oceans, including sea-level rise and ocean acidification, which will put marine ecosystems and coastal communities at risk. Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein according to the United Nations. 

Oceans form around 70% of the Earth’s surface, carry out about 50% of global primary production and support the greatest biodiversity on the planet. They are also one of the largest carbon reservoirs in the Earth system, holding up to 54 times more carbon than the atmosphere. The oceans therefore:

 

  • Regulate the Earth system – Ocean currents transport large amounts of heat and water around the world and constantly interact with the atmosphere, which enables the ocean to act as a heat sink to delay the full effects of climate change.
  • Supply living and non-living resources – The oceans are a major source of food. Worldwide approximately half of the population live in coastal zones and about a billion people rely on fish as their main source of protein

 

  • Provide social and economic goods and services – Coastal and marine tourism is a large global industry supporting regional economies as coastal and marine environments become more accessible. Eco-tourism in particular is a fast growing sector.

The oceans are the lungs of our planet; provide oxygen for breathing, a major source of food & medicine and a critical part of the biosphere. We know that the three-fourth (3/4th) part of our whole earth is full of water; it is our responsibility to save our ocean and marine life from the danger of global warming. It’s an individual’s duty to participate and to contribute in protecting and preserving our shared ocean. 

So, it is desirable to get together with our family, friends and community to create a better future for our planet. No doubt World Oceans Day is a big step to save the equilibrium of water and life on earth.

Lamin Komma is a Senior Program Officer and Head of Coastal & Marine Environment Program of the National Environment Agency (NEA). He has obtained a double Master’s Degree. One with a focus in Ocean Sustainability, Governance & Management – World Maritime University (a University founded by the UN in Malmö, Sweden) and the other one with a focus in Tropical Marine Ecology & Fisheries Biology – James Cook University, Australia. 

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