Happy World Oceans Day

08 June 2009 | News story

IUCN is delighted to join the international community in celebrating World Oceans Day on June 8th 2009, now officially designated as such by the United Nations . This annual event serves to remind us all of our collective responsibility to protect the world's living ocean and conserve its resources for present and future generations.

This year, IUCN calls on delegates to meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to agree upon outcomes that embrace the role and protect the state of the world’s oceans. Climate change impacts including ocean acidification and the warming of seawater temperature must be addressed.

IUCN urges governments to integrate Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) techniques into the portfolio of available adaptation strategies and to focus on significant emission reduction commitments.

“Addressing climate change through better management of marine resources is an evolving science.” explains Thomas Laughlin, Deputy Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Program. “EbA offers us some hope with respect to preserving and protecting marine ecosystem habitats in the face of climate change stressors.”

“The impacts of ocean warming and acidification associated with greenhouse gas emissions threaten the livelihoods, food security, and coastal infrastructures of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people,” warns Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Program. “To combat the worst effects of ocean acidification, a two-pronged mitigation and adaptation approach is needed to buy time.”

Until now, the oceans have been only a minor focus of international climate change negotiations. We are hopeful that delegations at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 15) meeting in Copenhagen at the end of the year will adopt a new agreement on reducing carbon emissions for a commitment period after 2012, the year in which targets adopted under the Kyoto Protocol were to have been reached.

Climate change is exacerbating the threats to the oceans and coasts and is bringing the marine environment closer to peril. The reduction of human induced stressors, including overfishing, pollution and unsustainable coastal development, is imperative if the oceans are to continue to provide marine ecosystem services such as shore protection and important food and income resources on which so many depend.

The world's ocean covers 70% of our planet, yet less than 1% of our ocean habitat is protected. Beneath the surface of the sea lies an extraordinarily diversity of life. It is estimated that more than one million species live on coral reefs alone, and perhaps as many as ten million in the deep seas. But this world is under siege. Now is the time for a ‘blue revolution’ to recognize the enormous value that the oceans and coasts have for the maintenance of life on our planet, including our economic systems.

For more information or to set up interviews please contact:
Brian Thomson, IUCN Global Communications, m  +41 79 721 8326 ; e brian.thomson@iucn.org

Taffeta Gray, Marine Communications Officer, m  +1 202 330 3615 , e tgray@iucnus.org

Photos are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iucnweb/sets/72157617940046889/show/