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“Urgent action on a global scale is needed to alleviate the world’s oceans from the many pressures they face, and to protect them from future dangers that may tip them beyond the limits of their carrying capacity. ”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
2016 Theme: Healthy oceans, healthy planet
Plastic bottles and garbage from a nearby village wash on the shores of a river and then spill into the sea in Dili, Timor-Leste. UN Photo/Martine Perret
The ocean is the heart of our planet. Like your heart pumping blood to every part of your body, the ocean connects people across the Earth, no matter where we live. The ocean regulates the climate, feeds millions of people every year, produces oxygen, is the home to an incredible array of wildlife, provides us with important medicines, and so much more! In order to ensure the health and safety of our communities and future generations, it’s imperative that we take the responsibility to care for the ocean as it cares for us.
This year, the theme is Healthy oceans, healthy planet, and we’re making a special effort to stop plastic pollution.
Plastic pollution is a serious threat because it degrades very slowly, polluting waterways for a very long time. In addition, plastic pollution impacts the health of aquatic animals because animals including zooplankton mistake the microbeads for food. Scientists also fear health impacts for humans.
The United Nations will celebrate World Oceans Day 2016 and recognize the winners of the Annual World Oceans Day Oceanic Photo Competition at an event on 8 June 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters.
Why do we celebrate World Oceans Day?
- To remind everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe.
- To inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean.
- To develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean.
- To mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world's oceans. They are a major source of food and medicines and a critical part of the biosphere.
- To celebrate together the beauty, the wealth and the promise of the ocean.
UN Photo/Milton Grant
By its resolution 63/111 of 5 December 2008, the UN General Assembly designated 8 June as World Oceans Day.
The concept of a 'World Oceans Day' was first proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro as a way to celebrate our world’s shared ocean and our personal connection to the sea, as well as to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help protect it.
To raise awareness about the role the United Nations and international law can play in the sustainable development and use of the oceans and their living and non-living resources, the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea is actively coordinating different activities of he World Oceans Day.
UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) sponsors the World Ocean Network, which has since 2002 been instrumental in building support for ocean awareness events on 8 June.
The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind.
Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation.
Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.
Facts and figures
- Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume.
- Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.
- Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion per year or about 5 per cent of global GDP.
- Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions.
- Oceans absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
- Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 2.6 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein.
- Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people.
- Subsidies for fishing are contributing to the rapid depletion of many fish species and are preventing efforts to save and restore global fisheries and related jobs, causing ocean fisheries to generate US$ 50 billion less per year than they could.
- As much as 40 per cent of the world oceans are heavily affected by human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats.
- Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea
- World Oceans Day at UNESCO
- UNESCO: One Planet, One Ocean
- UNESCO: Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
- World Ocean network
- Fisheries and Aquaculture (FAO)
- UN Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020 (pdf)
- Convention on Biological Diversity
- Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
- Water and Ocean governance (UNDP)
- International Maritime Organization (IMO)
- International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
- Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS)
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- Technical cooperation brochure
- World Oceans Day by The Ocean Project
- World Oceans Day at UNESCO
- World Water Day (22 March)
- International Mother Earth Day (22 April)
- International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May)
- International Year of Planet Earth (2008)
- International Year of Sanitation (2008)
- International Decade for Action Water for Life (2005–2015)