The secretary general of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres, called today in Cape Verde for 2023 to be one of “super-action” by developed countries to “end the ocean emergency”.

“Some have called 2022 the ‘super year’ for the ocean, but the race is far from over. We need to make 2023 a year of ‘super-action’, so that we can end the oceanic emergency once and for all”, said António Guterres, speaking at the opening of the Ocean Race Summit, today, in the city from Mindelo, Cape Verde.

The Ocean Race Summit is part of the first trip to Cape Verde of the Ocean Race, the largest and oldest regatta in the world, and this morning in Mindelo, São Vicente island, it brings together politicians, government officials, specialists and other personalities to address the future of oceans.

“The ocean is a livelihood. And the ocean is in trouble. Humanity has been waging a senseless and self-destructive war against nature. The ocean is at the forefront of the battle, which means that Small Island Developing States (SIDS, its acronym in English) , such as Cape Verde, are too”, pointed out António Guterres.

He added that around 35% of global fisheries ‘stoks’ are currently “overexploited” and stressed that global warming “is raising ocean temperatures to new levels, fueling more frequent and intense storms, raising sea levels and salinizing land and coastal aquifers”, and that habitats “once rich in corals are being reduced to oblivion”.

“Meanwhile, toxic chemicals and millions of tonnes of plastic waste are flooding coastal ecosystems, killing or injuring fish, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals, entering the food chain and ultimately being consumed by us. By 2050, there could be more plastic in the sea than fish,” she emphasized.

Even so, he highlighted the “good news” of 2022: “The world has taken some important steps to correct our course. This includes the historic agreement in Nairobi to negotiate a globally binding treaty to control plastics pollution, it includes the World Trade Organization agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies that too often result in illegal fishing.”

“At the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, countries made hundreds of new voluntary commitments and pledges to protect the ocean, a positive trend that we hope will continue at this year’s conference in Panama. And at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, countries agreed on the goal of protecting 30% of land, water, coastal and marine ecosystems by 2030”, he listed.

However, the UN Secretary-General recalled that there is a lack of “effective implementation of the various legal and political instruments related to the ocean”, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which will be 40 years old in 2023, or the “conclusion of the long-awaited agreement on the marine biological diversity of areas outside national jurisdiction, which cover more than two-thirds of our ocean”.

António Guterres began a three-day visit to Cape Verde on Saturday, as part of the passage (January 20th to 25th) of the Ocean Race through Mindelo.

“We gather on the shores of the mighty Atlantic Ocean today to celebrate something special: the inspiring courage of the women and men who sail this grueling six-month round-the-world regatta. It is also inspiring to know that each boat carries special equipment to collect scientific data to help ensure a healthy ocean for the future,” she acknowledged.

“Because in the face of climate change and plastic pollution, humanity has its own race to win. The race to protect our oceans for the future. The ocean sustains the air we breathe, the food we eat, the cultures and identities that define us, the jobs and prosperity that sustain us, the regulation of weather and climate, and the billions of animals, plants and microorganisms that call the ocean from home. The ocean is life”, said António Guterres.


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