24.10.2017 - UNESCO Office in Venice

One Ocean forum sets a code of conduct for concrete actions to protect the ocean and save our future

Michael Pitts - The photographer freed and released an Hawaiian monk seal caught in fishing tackle off Kure Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

The One Ocean forum, as a regular event, aims to promote effective actions towards marine preservation, creating a network of “intelligence” and identifying best practices in order to solve the issues affecting the marine ecosystem. On 3-4 October 2017, its first edition launched an international dialogue on ocean sustainability to identify principles and commitments that individuals and organizations can share and commit to for the protection of the ocean and its resources. It tackled 4 important themes - among which Ocean Literacy, understanding the ocean influence on us and our influence on the ocean.

Our ocean, Our future, indeed our society depends upon the ocean for a sustainable future. Life started from the ocean and without the ocean life could end. Never before has the ocean been so endangered. The mighty ocean that we are filling it with garbage. 22,000 tons of plastics are dumped every day. 5 trillion individual fragments, most of them smaller than 5mm, expose a serious threat marine food webs and ecosystems and assault the ocean, its life and as a result also ours. This condition should be alarming to us all and we need to be reactive.

By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean. We are plundering the ocean and its vital resources as if life underwater was endless. It is not! A third of fish are caught beyond sustainability. We are causing the most beautiful ecosystems to vanish quickly than ever before. Almost half coral reefs are either collapsing or dead. Besides, we are making all this happen much too fast but it is not only about the ocean, it is also about us. 3 billion people depend on marine biodiversity. We ought to start with daily actions and we would better do it now because the countdown has started and it is at our own risks.

In the steps of the UN Ocean Conference in New York (5-9 June2017) and its call to sustainable action and investment in innovative solutions, the One Ocean forum was held for two days in Milan, Italy. Promoted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), the event was organized in cooperation with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, with the scientific contribution of SDA Bocconi School of Management. The aim was to raise awareness about threats to the ocean environment, to commit towards marine preservation and to set a code of ethics to disseminate related principles and actions.

While ocean issues are getting increased attention on the international agenda, much still remains to be done. Not enough people are aware of the importance the ocean has for our home planet earth. Climate change, marine pollution and ocean acidification are menacing the ocean health. “We need both individual and collective actions at once to solve ocean issues”, explained Francesca Santoro, Ocean Literacy specialist at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) stationed at the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe. ”We are all stewards of the ocean and the planet and, we all need to do our part. It is easy as we can start by avoiding single-use plastic, including bottles and straws. We all have a role to play.”

Held under the high patronage of Princess Zahra Aga Khan, the One Ocean forum brought together major stakeholders and prominent experts from different fields - scientific/academic world, artists, divers and sailors to open an international dialogue on marine preservation. The forum included eyewitness contributions of 4 men and women with a longstanding deep and ongoing bond with the sea who shared the changes and scenarios that they have experienced first-hand, namely: world champion sailor Paul Cayard, world free-diving champion Davide Carrera, environmental artist Anne de Carbuccia and, National Geographic explorer and journalist Paul Rose.

The discussion developed around pressing issues, such as marine litter and pollution, global and climate changes, and possible solutions such as blue technologies and innovation, and ocean literacy - understanding the ocean, its influence and how essential it is for our wellbeing. “We have reached the point of no return. We need to act now, today. We can make a real difference by adopting a responsible approach and sustainable actions. We need to make our best to leave the ocean, as we have known it, to our future generations.”, appealed Princess Zahra Aga Khan. “Each single action is important for the ocean”.

Best practice presentations and labs were organized to call attention, to reflect and expand on issues related to the marine environment. Private sector representatives presented examples of successful stories and revealed that is possible to develop sustainable blue businesses bringing together science, technology and economy.

The future of the ocean will only be sustainable with ocean science that serves society,” said keynote speaker Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC Executive Secretary, emphasizing the urgent need for scientific research and cooperation to provide answers and solutions for the sustainability of our ocean. To promote technological development and national investments in ocean science, UNESCO’s IOC and its partners are calling for 2021-2030 to become the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The One Ocean forum closed with the adoption of the Charta Smeralda setting out principles and actions for marine preservation. In accordance with the priorities set by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and with the evidence provided by the scientific community, the Charta Smeralda encourages all players, individuals or organizations to commit to reduce their environmental footprint, by identifying actions to minimize impacts and proposing solutions. “The Charta Smeralda gathers a commitment to care for our ocean and our future! », remarks Ana Luiza Thompson-Flores, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe. “It is an important step towards actions to switch the climate change.”  

website : www.oneoceanforum.org

Multimedia: video trailer Opening video Forum video report




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