Mr. Wu’s Blog on Oceans & Seas
7 Aug 2014
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- A key priority for SIDS is oceans and seas, along with coastal areas. Indeed, oceans and seas are intrinsically tied with SIDS. One SIDS Ambassador recently stated that the people of SIDS are ocean people. They depend on oceans and seas for their livelihoods; their culture and history are deeply interwoven with oceans and seas. Healthy, productive and resilient oceans are critical to the survival and prosperity of SIDS.
Let us look at the economic aspects. SIDS depend on marine-based tourism (sun, sea, sand) for more than 50% of their export earnings. Fishery earnings contribute more than ten percent of their GDP, reaching in some SIDS as high as fifty percent. Oceans and seas are also crucial sources of food and nutrition – not only for SIDS, but indeed for global food security and human health.
At a global level, oceans are likewise a critical part of the global economy. Three billion people, including SIDS populations, depend on marine and coastal areas for livelihoods. Ninety percent of the world trade in goods, is seaborne.
While there is a diversity of views on how to assist SIDS in the conservation, protection and sustainable management of oceans and seas and coastal areas, there is a clear emphasis on the urgency of actions on the sustainable development of oceans and seas.
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General
Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on SIDS
The environment and resource dimensions of SIDS are equally significant. Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume. Indeed, our very survival depends on oceans and seas, as they are the primary regulator of the climate and an important sink for greenhouse gases. Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions. SIDS host high concentrations of endemic species, which in some SIDS range from 19% to as high as 50%.
From a social development perspective, oceans and seas provide critical livelihoods for women, who often assist in artisanal fishery, aquaculture and tourism.
Yet despite our dependence on oceans and seas, we are not doing a good enough job in conserving, protecting and sustainably managing their resources. Human activity and climate change are causing numerous local and global threats hampering the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and their related ecosystems. Among these are over-exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing practices, alien invasive species, marine pollution, as well as increased sea temperatures, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and criminal activity.
At Rio+20, member States recognized that our oceans and seas are not healthy. They pledged to protect and restore the health, productivity and resilience of oceans and marine ecosystems, and to maintain their biodiversity. They set forth forward-looking, inter-connected and integrated actions in some 20 areas, starting with the implementation of the international legal instruments, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
In the ongoing consultations on the draft outcome document of the SIDS Conference, oceans and seas are being addressed as a key thematic area. While there is a diversity of views on how to assist SIDS in the conservation, protection and sustainable management of oceans and seas and coastal areas, there is a clear emphasis on the urgency of actions on the sustainable development of oceans and seas. I am confident that Member States will live up to the expectations of the people of SIDS by taking specific, forward-looking actions in support of healthy, productive and oceans and seas.