Call for UN to Recognize and Protect the Ocean’s Rights

CEESP News - by  Fiona Wilton, The Gaia Foundation / OCC-Uruguay

The ocean covers seventy percent of our planet, generates over fifty percent of the oxygen, regulates climate, and provides food and jobs for millions of people. Yet human activities have led to a global decline in marine biodiversity of 49%, roughly half of what it was 50 years ago.

A global call has been made to include the recognition and protection of the ocean’s rights as a necessary approach in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.   


Call for UN to Recognize and Protect the Ocean’s Rights

The call was launched at the UN Ocean Conference, held during June 5th-9th,  with a view to identifying best practices, sharing experiences and building partnerships, to “reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity”.

Current ocean law and policy is largely guided by the ocean’s utility to humans, rather than by principles of sustainability, ecosystem health, precaution, and interconnectedness.  Humanity’s relationship with the ocean is an underlying root cause of our failure to implement effective measures to safeguard its health. 

“We are ignoring the fact that our planet is mostly water and the oceans are an integral part of the atmosphere”, says Rodrigo García, from OCC-Uruguay  "The energy balance between oceans and atmosphere plays a vital role in regulating the planet’s climate, not to mention being a source of food, medicines, and the most mysterious and unexplored biodiversity. It’s time to stop turning our backs on the oceans, and return to them the life they have given us."  

“We cannot reverse the decline in the health of the ocean for the planet, if we do not place the planet’s needs above our own. Rather than asking ourselves what level of activity (such as fishing) provides the greatest benefit to us, we need to start asking what level of activity provides the greatest benefit to the whole of the Earth community; all systems, species and ecosystems.” says Earth Law Center's Ocean Rights Manager, Michelle Bender.

For more information, and to sign onto the initiative, please contact Michelle Bender, Earth Law Center (mbender at

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