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Erosian at the west end of Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina. Source: Wikimedia
Erosian at the west end of Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina. Source: Wikimedia

UN urges ocean conservation to avoid global catastrophe

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 The secretary-general of the United Nations warned Monday in New York about the threat implicit in the ongoing deterioration of oceans, and urged people to think less about benefits for themselves, their countries or corporations and more about saving the planet.

"We must put aside short-term national gain, to prevent long-term global catastrophe," said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his opening speech at the Ocean Conference, the first on the subject to be held at the United Nations in New York.

The purpose of the Ocean Conference is give international importance to Goal 14 of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

The head of the UN called on member countries to begin discussions to define the new model for managing the oceans, whose health has been seriously damaged in recent decades, he said, as a result of "pollution, overfishing and the effects of climate change."

The threat for all countries, he said, consists not only of rising sea levels, but also of warming and acidification, which causes the bleaching of corals and the reduction of marine biodiversity.

"Changing currents will have a serious impact on weather patterns," he added, which means "we must prepare for more frequent storms and droughts."

"Numerous reports, global commissions and scientific assessments have described the serious damage to our most vital life support system," said Guterres, who then reproached governments around the world for "not making full use of the tools available to them, including the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and UN Oceans."

That being the case, he said, "we are here today to turn the tide." 

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