On World Oceans Day, we reflect on the challenges facing our ocean and what we must do to protect this life-sustaining resource for future generations. The fact is that the rich marine environment many of us have enjoyed throughout our lives is under extreme stress from human activity. Without a shift in our approach, our children and grandchildren will inherit an ocean that is less healthy, less resilient and less able to provide for the world’s population.
I have seen the change over the course of my lifetime alone. The ocean has many fewer pristine areas. It has too much trash, nutrient pollution, and carbon dioxide. We need to do more to maintain and restore healthy marine ecosystems, manage fish stocks on a sustainable basis, and establish more marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect the most vulnerable parts of the ocean, such as coral reefs. Despite the disturbing trends, I am hopeful we are approaching a turning point in our understanding of the role we must play in sustaining a healthy ocean.
In September, I will host the third “Our Ocean” conference to bring together some of the world’s most creative thinkers and doers dedicated to marine protection. Since we first convened this conference in 2014, the global community has come together to pledge over 4 billion dollars for conservation and new commitments to protect almost 6 million square kilometers in MPAs. We’ve seen that the Our Ocean conference is a platform from which we can galvanize action from all over the world and from all parts of society. This year, I am especially dedicated to bringing the next generation of ocean leaders into this conversation to help drive forward fresh, ambitious ideas to save our ocean.
On World Oceans Day, I challenge all who love the ocean – and all who love the planet – to join us.