People take pictures of a salmon installation made of debris collected from the Pacific Coast beaches on the first day of the Ocean Conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, June 5, 2017. Representatives from some 85 countries attend the five-day conference. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
UNITED NATIONS, June 5 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday urged the international community to take coordinated global action to solve the deteriorating health problems of the oceans.
"We created these problems. With decisive, coordinated global action, we can solve them," said Guterres in his opening remarks at the Ocean Conference, the first such summit convened by the UN.
"Pollution, overfishing and the effects of climate change are severely damaging the health of our oceans," he said, adding that "plastic could outweigh fish - if nothing happens - in our seas by 2050."
"Rising sea levels threaten entire countries. Oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, causing coral bleaching and reducing biodiversity," said the UN chief.
"Changing currents will have a serious impact on weather patterns; we must prepare for more frequent storms and droughts," he said.
Guterres also called for "decisive action" to nurture and protect the lifeblood of the planet.
Representatives from some 85 countries attended the five-day conference, which would focus on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN menber states in 2015, the organizers said.
Photo taken on June 5 shows the Ocean Conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Representatives from some 85 countries attend the five-day conference. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
In particular among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Goal 14 highlights the need to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources to benefit present and future generations.
A surge in the number of voluntary commitments to take action to improve the health of the ocean by countries, businesses and civil society groups has been recorded, the organizers said.
The commitments, now numbering over 600 and still increasing, come as heads of state and government and ministers are joining ocean leaders, experts, businesses, and civil society organizations to discuss solutions that restore the health of the world's ocean.
The commitments target a wide range of ocean problems, ranging from protecting coral reefs, strengthening sustainable fisheries, reducing plastic pollution, and addressing the impacts of climate change on the ocean, the organizers said.