The United Nations celebrates World Oceans Day every year on June 8. As part of the celebrations, the Office of Legal Affairs, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea organizes several events and hosts a reception at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, where the Secretary-General’s Annual World Oceans Day Message is delivered and the winners of the Annual World Oceans Day Oceanic Photo Competition are announced.
Each year on the evening of World Oceans Day, the the Empire State Building is lit in blue to honor the world’s oceans.
This year a Discussion Panel, entitled “Clean our ocean: innovation and youth” will be held from 3:25 to 5:30pm at United Nations Headquarters. This interactive event aims to bring forward examples of visions, innovative approaches or partnerships which support a clean ocean for sustainable development. Particular focus will be given to innovation across the spectrum of relevant stakeholders represented by six panellists. The event will also provide opportunity for youth mobilization, including their direct participation in the event.
What is World Oceans Day
On World Oceans Day people across the globe celebrate the significance and impact of the oceans around the planet, by highlighting their many contributions to human society, while recognizing the considerable challenges we face in maintaining the benefits that the oceans provide. The oceans cover about two-thirds of the surface of the Earth and are the very foundations of life. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, absorb a large share of carbon dioxide emissions, provide food and nutrients, regulate climate, and are important economically for countries that rely on tourism, fishing and other marine resources for income, and serve as the backbone of international trade.
Unfortunately, human pressures, including overexploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing, as well as unsustainable aquaculture practices, marine pollution, habitat destruction, alien species, climate change and ocean acidification are taking a significant toll on the world’s oceans and seas. Peace and security are also critical to the full enjoyment of the benefits that can be derived from the oceans and for their sustainable development. As has been remarked by the Secretary-General, “There will be no development without security and no security without development”.
Many countries have celebrated World Oceans Day following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as of 2009, 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day” (resolution 63/111, paragraph 171).
The official designation of World Oceans Day by the United Nations is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the benefits derived from the oceans and the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans. The day is intended to provide an opportunity for people to reflect and emphasize the benefits that the oceans can provide and our individual and collective duty to interact with oceans in a sustainable manner so as to meet current needs without compromising those of future generations.