Deputy Prime Minister Lövins remarks for World Oceans Day

Worlds Oceans Day in New York, 8 June 2017.

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Your Royal Highness, President of the General Assembly, Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • It is my sincere pleasure to welcome you to this very special celebration of World Oceans Day. I am absolutely delighted to be here with you today, and to stand with my friends from Fiji in realizing our dream of a vibrant and productive Ocean conference here this week.
  • I offer my gratitude to Prime minster Bainimarama and his wonderful team for their tireless efforts in working with us to make this a reality. And to the president of the General Assembly Peter Thomson, without whom we would not be here today.
  • I also offer my sincere thanks to the many organizers and partners who have made this event possible.
  • Friends, imagine planet Earth – without water. Without water; no life, no blue, no green.
  • These are the words of a woman I deeply admire, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, who is present here and will join our event today, and who is one of the people on the planet who has spent longest time under water, as a diver and researcher.
  • The esteemed Sylvia Earle, sometimes called Her Deepness - also often points out that when astronomers are looking for signs of life in space, they look for one thing – water. In a cold, black infinite universe dotted with blazing stars, black holes and red desert planets, our shimmering living blue planet is a spectacular exception.
  • Almost all astronauts who have seen the planet from space, who have seen how the blue planet hangs there in the black emptiness, have undergone a fundamental change, a phenomenon that has been dubbed The Overview Effect. National boundaries are not visible from space, and it is quite obvious that there is just one Planet Earth, that it is alive and that we all belong together.
  • The American environmentalist Aldo Leopold once said that it is impossible to engage and have an ethical approach to something that you do not feel anything for, and it is impossible to feel anything for something you do not know about. And that, I believe, is one of the reasons of the decline of our ocean. People have not known about it. We have not understood the extent of the damage we have caused our ocean by all the combined pressures.
  • Overfishing. Pollution. Plastic litter. Eutrophication. Destruction of coastal ecosystems. Climate change.
  • Now we can no longer say we don't know. Now we must engage, now we must act.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, dear friends,

  • I'm an optimist when it comes to the world's ability to solve crises. I'm an optimist because I know that change is possible. I´ve seen it through my political life many times. I know what we are capable of when we are working together.
  • This year, for example, the historic protection of the Ross Sea in Antartica, sometimes called the "Last Ocean", will come in to force. The Ross Sea is probably the least altered marine ecosystem on earth. It is a wild place, a kingdom of wildlife with emperor penguins, leopard seals, minke whales and killer whales. It is one of these rare places where humans are only visitors and large animals rule. I think the protection of this area shows that the world can successfully cooperate in saving our ocean, and we need to celebrate it.
  • But one-off achievements in protecting the ocean will not be enough. We need to incorporate ocean health into all our plans for economic and social development. The two issues cannot be separated, and by now we know that. Today is a celebration for this vision. A celebration of the ocean that gives us life, and that we all depend upon.
  • Now, I am delighted that we are able to spend this day together and I am very excited by, and very grateful to, all the Ocean heroes that are here and that we can listen to this morning.
  • It is now my pleasure to declare this World Oceans Day celebration open!