UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged governments and all stakeholders to commit to the conservation and sustainability of the oceans through innovation and science.
He said the upcoming United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will provide impetus and a common framework for action.
"Better understanding of the oceans is essential for conserving fish stocks and discovering new products and medicines," the UN chief said as the World Ocean Day was observed globally on Monday.
Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic is a sharp reminder of how they are all intimately connected -- to each other and to nature.
"As we work to end the pandemic and build back better, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity – and responsibility -- to correct our relationship with the natural world, including the world’s seas and oceans," he said.
Guterres said they rely on the oceans for food, livelihoods, transport, and trade. "And, as the lungs of our planet and its largest carbon sink, the oceans play a vital role in regulating the global climate."
Today, he said, sea levels are rising due to climate change, threatening lives and livelihoods in low-lying nations and coastal cities and communities around the world.
The UN chief said the oceans are becoming more acidic, putting marine biodiversity and essential food chains in jeopardy.
"And plastic pollution is everywhere. On this World Oceans Day, we focus on Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean," he said.