The ocean conference: a game-changer.

Author:Thomson, Peter
Position:Conference news

The Ocean is in dire need of our help. If the cycle of decline, in which it is currently caught, is allowed to continue, the deleterious impacts on the life-forms dwelling in, above and next to the Ocean may well become irreversible.

All life on this planet ultimately depends on a healthy Ocean, thus stopping its deterioration is one of the most important challenges of our era. If we are to ensure a bountiful planet for ourselves and for future generations, the time for action is upon us.

An islander is defined by the Ocean. Having been born and raised in Fiji, from my earliest childhood I observed the Ocean's status as the ultimate life-giver. In the Fiji of my childhood, the bounty of life-forms surrounded you every time you swam in its waters. Spawned by the Ocean, puffy cumulus clouds propelled by the trade winds brought us the fresh afternoon rain that filled our water tanks. Fishermen replenished the market with their catch beside fisherwomen selling coconut-leaf bags of shellfish and edible seaweed. We lived in the bosom of the Ocean.

In a previous contribution to this magazine (UN Chronicle Vol. L, No. l, April 2013), I provided a contemporary perspective from Fiji, a small island developing State (SIDS), highlighting the environmental and climatic challenges to ensuring the sustainable management of the Ocean's resources. In writing about those challenges, I underlined the fact that they were not unique to my country, but common to all SIDS.

This article expands on that SIDS perspective, presenting a universal picture of the state of the Ocean and demonstrating that its current woes ultimately affect us all, from the island nations to landlocked countries and continental States. This perspective leads me to the Ocean Conference, to be held at the United Nations in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017. The Conference is quite possibly the best and last real opportunity for the world to come together to take the comprehensive measures required to reverse the decline in the Ocean's health.


The Ocean unites us. With the bounty of its resources, limitless energy and indispensable trade routes, it is the lifeblood of our planet. Its health is crucial to humanity's wellbeing; thus the time has come for us all to recognize that increasing human activity has placed the Ocean in jeopardy.

Covering three quarters of the Earth's surface and containing 97 per cent of the planet's water, the Ocean drives global...

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