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UN Secretary General Guterres says world's oceans are facing unprecedented threat

  • Guterres was speaking at the opening of the United Nations' Ocean Conference in New York
  • Countries are set to adopt a Call for Action on Friday, aimed at protecting world's oceans
Wolfgang Poelzer | WaterFrame | Getty Images

The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has warned that a range of factors are damaging the world's oceans. Speaking at the opening of the United Nations' Ocean Conference in New York, Guterres called on countries to work together to preserve the world's oceans.

Describing the relationship between humans and the planet's waters as "special", he said that it was "now under threat as never before: pollution, overfishing, and the effects of climate change are severely damaging the health of our oceans."

"Oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, causing coral bleaching and reducing biodiversity," Guterres went on to state. "Changing currents will have a serious impact on weather patterns, and we must prepare for more frequent storms and droughts."

The Ocean Conference is taking place between June 5 and 9. The end of the Conference will see the formal adoption of a Call for Action. Among other things, the Call for Action emphasizes the necessity of implementing Sustainable Development Goal 14.

The targets of Goal 14 include: preventing and significantly cutting marine pollution by 2025; minimizing and addressing the impacts of ocean acidification; and conserving at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

"We are here today to turn the tide," Guterres went on to explain. "We created these problems. With decisive, coordinated global action, we can solve them."

Speaking at the opening session of the conference, Peter Thomson, president of the UN General Assembly, sought to highlight its significance.

"In most probability this conference represents the best opportunity we will ever have to reverse the cycle of decline that human activity has brought upon the Ocean," he said.

"If we want a secure future for our species on this planet, we have to act now on the health of the ocean and on climate change," he added.