By Marian-Gauna Bulamaibau. World Oceans Day has been celebrated annually on the 8th of June since 2002. As the challenges faced by our oceans continue to grow, so does the need for novel solutions and the people driving them. While Covid-19 and social distancing are changing how we recognize our blue planet this year, the need for action is perhaps more important than ever.
The theme of UN World Oceans Day 2020 is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.” Innovation—relating to the introduction of new methods, ideas, or products—is a dynamic term, and one that is fundamentally filled with hope. The oceans are our life force, essential to our survival and are responsible for making conditions on Earth suitable for us to live in. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather systems, and climate are all ultimately provided and kept in balance by the oceans. We rely on them as a major source of food we eat, and they produce the majority of the oxygen that we breathe.
This year's theme is especially relevant in leading up to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, uniting conservation action to grow the global movement calling on world leaders to protect 30% of our blue planet by 2030. By safeguarding at least 30% of our land and ocean through a network of protected areas, we can help ensure a healthy home for both marine and human life.
As countries across the world grow concerned about the continuous deterioration of resources in our oceans owing to pollution, overfishing, ocean acidification, climate change and now, the Covid-19 pandemic ---ocean conservation must remain a priority. Marine biodiversity is critical to the health of people and our planet. Effective management of marine protected areas need to be well resourced and proper regulations are to be put in place to reduce overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification. IUCN and its members and partners from Governments, Non-government organisations, civil society organisations and other stakeholders are diligently working together to safeguard our oceans.
Taking action to protect our ocean is not a one-time thing, it is our everyday responsibility. There is no one simple fix to these problems, but by having a greater understanding, taking small actions, and making small changes, we can all help to keep our oceans healthier and more sustainably innovative for our future.
Marian is the Acting Senior Marine Project Officer and Project Assistant for the IUCN Oceania Marine Programme.