Life Below Water
The ocean drives global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea.
Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. However, at the current time, there is a continuous deterioration of coastal waters owing to pollution, and ocean acidification is having an adversarial effect on the functioning of ecosystems and biodiversity. This is also negatively impacting small scale fisheries.
Saving our ocean must remain a priority. Marine biodiversity is critical to the health of people and our planet. Marine protected areas need to be effectively managed and well-resourced and regulations need to be put in place to reduce overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification.
Ocean conservation and action should not come to a halt while we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to look at long-term solutions for the health of our planet as a whole. Our lives depend on a healthy planet.
The health of the ocean is intimately tied to our health. According to UNESCO, the ocean can be an ally against COVID-19: Bacteria found in the depths of the ocean are used to carry out rapid testing to detect the presence of COVID-19. And the diversity of species found in the ocean offers great promise for pharmaceuticals.
The pandemic offers an opportunity to revive the ocean and start building a sustainable ocean economy. A report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific suggests that the temporary shutdown of activities as well as reduced human mobility and resource demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic may provide marine environments the much-needed breathing space for them to start to recover.
The UN Ocean Conference, originally scheduled for June 2020, was postponed to a later date (to be determined) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.