Lisbon (dpa) – The situation is so serious that even representatives of Russia and Ukraine want to gather in Lisbon. The second United Nations Ocean Conference (UNOC) begins in the Portuguese capital on Monday.
It’s fifth to twelfth for the world’s oceans, which are increasingly polluted by plastic waste, overfishing, species extinction, warming, acidification, shrinking coral and glaciers. “We must act now. Everyone.”
According to the UNOC website, the oceans are “threatened by human activities to an unprecedented degree”. Few of the characters even illustrate the scale of the problem for the average person. Keywords plastic: According to Thomson, eleven million tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year, “and this amount is expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050.” Images of sea turtles caught in fishing nets, seabirds feeding their chicks with plastic parts, or dolphins swallowing shopping bags are already part of everyday life.
Meanwhile, warming caused by climate change and ocean acidification “is progressing at an alarming rate,” Ochenker said in her Lisbon conference call. The well-known international environmental protection organization based in Switzerland has confirmed that if warming continues, the Arctic will be practically ice-free for the first time in summer before 2050. Sea-level rise threatens islands and entire coastal areas.
Expert: You can “turn the rudder”
“We know what needs to be done, so it is troubling to see the collective failure of the entire world,” said Oceancare CEO Fabienne McLellan. However, one can “turn the rudder” https://www.sueddeutsche.de/wissen/. “What we need now are reasonable, courageous, measurable and actionable measures.”
The Swiss is not the only one who will press in Lisbon. In addition to government delegations from about 150 countries, including Germany with Federal Environment Minister Stevie Lemke (the Greens), scientists and representatives from the private sector, members of hundreds of NGOs have also announced that they are calling for action. “We shouldn’t waste any more time on conversations and explanations,” said Greenpeace’s Ocean representative in Spain, Pilar Marcos, for example.
The plans of the United Nations are certainly ambitious. At the only global community conference dedicated exclusively to the world’s oceans, the goal is to initiate joint measures to save the massive ecosystem. This is the 14th out of a total of 17 goals set in the United Nations 2030 Agenda. Among other things, 30 percent of the oceans must be protected within eight years. According to Greenpeace, the percentage is currently less than three percent, but there are different statements.
Will there be tangible results?
But can one be optimistic before the meeting, which is being held with a two-year delay due to Corona? On the question of whether tangible results can be expected, the United Nations said: There will be a declaration on the implementation and facilitation of ocean protection and conservation. We expect “all stakeholders, from governments to businesses to civil society, to make concrete and realistic voluntary commitments to address the diverse ocean-related issues that affect their communities, countries and beyond.”
The problem is the term “voluntary”. Maria Santos of the Portuguese environment organization Zero is not alone in her opinion: “The Lisbon Declaration will not be binding. This seriously questions its effectiveness,” she complained.
According to UNOC, those who will be looking for “innovative and scientifically sound solutions” in Lisbon include US climate envoy and former Secretary of State John Kerry, his Russian colleague Ruslan Idelgiriev, who is close to Kremlin President Vladimir Putin, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. According to the Portuguese government, heads of state and government such as Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson may want to stop.
The world’s oceans produce more than half of the oxygen
They all know very well: it is “not just” the survival of endangered marine animals such as yellowfin tuna, puffins, blue whales, blue sharks, regular rays, hawksbill turtles and many more. The world’s oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and are home to more than 80 percent of life on Earth, are also essential to human survival. For billions they are the basis of work and food. They are an important part of the global climate system, produce more than half of the oxygen we breathe and absorb about a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions.
Like many others, Portuguese Maria Santos remains skeptical that “the incompatibility of most environmental protection goals with those of the economy” will soon be overcome. But her country’s Minister of Economy and Maritime Affairs, Antonio Costa e Silva, as host of the conference, spoke plainly some time ago: “We have turned the seas into something like the toilets of the planet. It’s time to say no.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220624-99-786027 / 2