UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson visited Hong Kong as the first in a series of outreach initiatives to support implementation of the outcomes of the UN Ocean Conference.
Thomson called on society to save the health of the ocean through seven specific actions.
The actions nurture the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the ocean.
16 August 2017: UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Peter Thomson visited Hong Kong as part of UN efforts to maintain momentum on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal on life below water (SDG 14). The trip represented the first in a series of outreach initiatives to support implementation of the outcomes of the UN Ocean Conference, which convened at UN Headquarters in New York, US, in June 2017.
The UN Ocean Conference resulted in three main outcomes: the political declaration, ‘Our Ocean, our future: Call for Action,’ which outlines a series of priority actions to save the ocean; solutions discussed during the seven partnership dialogues; and nearly 1,400 voluntary commitments for ocean action formally listed in a Conference registry.
During his trip, Thomson met with high-level government officials, diplomats, representatives of academia, and other environmental stakeholders. Discussions focused on follow-up actions to meet SDG 14 targets. During an ocean stakeholders meeting, representatives of academia and researchers presented their findings on the state of the ocean and key challenges, including ocean acidification, ocean warming, rising sea levels, and hypoxia.
In a keynote address at the inaugural ‘Save our Ocean’ event, Thomson shared the main messages from the UN Ocean Conference, describing the Conference as a “game-changer” for efforts to save the Ocean. He stressed that, although humans have contributed to the decline in ocean health, “for every human problem there is a human solution.” Thomson called on society to “take responsibility for our past behavior” and act decisively to save the health of the ocean through seven specific actions.
Thomson called on society to “take responsibility for our past behavior” and act decisively to save the health of the ocean through seven specific actions.
The seven actions include: implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and amplifying the message of the SDGs; promoting ocean literacy and nurturing a culture of conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the ocean; supporting marine science research to further increase scientific knowledge and promote policy-making based on the best available science; supporting area-based management tools, including the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs); encouraging sustainable fisheries management by buying legal, sustainable fish; preventing and reducing marine pollution, such as stopping individual use of single-use plastic bags; and being aware of opportunities to minimize carbon footprints to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
Thompson also rang the Opening Bell of the Nasdaq Stock Market on 21 August 2017 to raise awareness on the urgency of measures needed to improve ocean health. He said he rang the bell “to continue to send the message to humanity that the ocean’s health is in trouble.” He called on society to protect ocean health as part of efforts to support life on Earth.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) organized the UNGA President’s trip to Hong Kong as part of its outreach initiatives to support outcomes of the Conference. [UN Press Release on Hong Kong Trip] [UN Press Release in Advance of Trip] [UNGA President Statement] [UN Press Release on Opening Bell] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Ocean Conference]