Warming oceans, depleting sea life and plastic pollution are on the agenda for next week's ocean summit at the United Nations, which will call for urgent action to improve the health of the oceans, while also creating jobs and raising people out of poverty.

“Human activities are having major impacts on the ocean, affecting everything from the viability of marine habitats to the quality and temperature of the water, the health of marine life, and the continued availability of seafood,” the UN organizers said about the event being held 5 to 9 June.

The Ocean Conference, the first ever such summit convened by the UN, will focus on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Governments in 2015. 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.

“Ocean deterioration has broader implications as it affects poverty eradication, economic growth, sustainable livelihoods and employment, global food security, human health and climate regulation,” the organizers said.

Thousands of people are expected to attend – including heads of State and Government, civil society representatives, business people, as well as actors, and ocean and marine life advocates.

Strong showing likely from Pacific Islands, African coastal States
A big showing is expected from small island developing States, particularly from the Pacific Islands, and from African coastal States, which are on the frontlines of climate change and whose economies are particularly vulnerable to changes in the oceans and marine life.

The current President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, said he is “very confident” that there is an appetite to take action to aid oceans and marine life.

The Secretary-General of The Ocean Conference, Wu Hongbo, who is also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said Member States have already hammered out the final text of the conference – which will include 22 specific actions to be taken. He noted that climate change action taken by the international community is unstoppable, and needs global support: “If you drop a plastic bottle anywhere near your sea, it may end up in some other places. So all these seas and oceans are connected; so regional or individual action seems very weak. We need global solutions to the global challenge.”

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