File photo taken on August 19, 2012 shows a turtle swimming in the sea in Volcano Krakatau, Indonesia. (Xinhua/Jiang Fan)
UNITED NATIONS, June 8 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on the international community to step up efforts on a global scale to protect the health of oceans.
"Healthy oceans are critical to sustaining life on Earth," Ban said in a message to mark World Oceans Day, which falls on June 8.
The secretary-general said, healthy oceans "regulate the climate and provide a wide range of services, including natural resources, nutritious food and jobs that benefit billions of people."
In order to protect the health of our oceans, it is crucial for us to know their current state, and understand the impact that human activities and climate change are having on them, he said.
In December 2015, the UN General Assembly welcomed the First Global Integrated Marine Assessment, a truly global scientific evaluation of the state of the world's oceans, he noted. "We now know that although the oceans are seemingly endless, their capacity to withstand human activities is limited, particularly as they also cope with the threats posed by climate change."
"Urgent action on a global scale is needed to alleviate the world's oceans from the many pressures they face, and to protect them from future dangers that may tip them beyond the limits of their carrying capacity," he said.
Filipino fishermen mark World Ocean Day with a protest on Manila Bay near the Philippine Senate on June 8, 2015. More than 200 fishermen onboard 40 fishing boats sailed to the senate to call on senators to pass a law that would mandate greater protection of coastlines from environmental threats. AFP PHOTO / Jay DIRECTO
Last year, in adopting the landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN member states underscored that healthy and productive oceans will play a crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. "Healthy oceans will also play an essential role in climate change adaptation and mitigation, as we strive to implement the Paris Agreement."
"On this World Oceans Day, let us all commit to protecting our oceans and using their gifts peacefully, equitably and sustainably for generations to come. Healthy oceans are essential for a healthy planet and a healthy future for all," Ban added.
Echoing Ban's remarks, Irina Bokova, the director-general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that 2016 is the year when the world starts to implement the promises made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
"UNESCO's message on World Oceans Day is clear -- the ocean is essential to moving forward," she said.
Bokova highlighted that despite the increasing impacts of human activities on the marine environment, the ocean remains an important driver in eradicating the greatest global challenge facing the world today: extreme poverty.
"The ocean is an integral part of our planet, and an absolutely essential component of human lives, livelihoods and the environment that sustains us," she said. "From fisheries and tourism to transportation and climate regulation, the ocean is key to implementing the new global agenda."
Especially for developing countries, coasts and the ocean provide multiple economic opportunities to ensure that no one will be left behind in the pursuit of a more equitable, sustainable development, the senior UN official said.
"Our message is that a healthy ocean is a healthy planet, and a healthy planet is absolutely vital for the well-being of generations to come. Whether in eradicating poverty or regulating the climate, the bottom line is that the ocean matters," Bokova said.
"World Oceans Day is our opportunity -- as decision-makers, industry, civil society, science, and you and me -- to tip the balance and move from agreement to meaningful action," she added.
Japanese Nettle Jellyfish are seen at Singapore's Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) S.E.A. Aquarium, June 7, 2016. Singapore's Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) S.E.A. Aquarium announced Tuesday that activities will be held from June 17 to 26 as part of the global celebration of World Oceans Day. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)
World Oceans Day is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. This year's theme is "Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet" and individuals and organizations across the planet are taking action for prevention of plastic pollution in our ocean.
World Oceans Day has grown tremendously each year since the Ocean Project started coordinating it in 2002. With hundreds of partners involved, and the United Nations officially recognized June 8 as World Oceans Day in 2008.
At UN Headquarters in New York, an event on "Voyaging to a Sustainable Planet: A Talk Story Uniting Leadership on Oceans" will be held on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the UN's Ocean Agenda.
On Wednesday evening, a reception will be held at the UN General Assembly hall, where the winners of this year's World Oceans Day Oceanic Photo Competition will be announced. That event will also feature several musical performances.
The Empire State Building in New York will be lit in the evening in white, blue and purple, representing the different layers of the ocean. White at the top represents the most shallow, sunlit waters and also the polar ice cap.
Blue represents the slightly deeper ocean waters, and purple is for even deeper waters. The unlit portions, or black, represent those parts of the ocean where the sun does not reach.