German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke reaffirms commitment to launching a marine conservation campaign to mark United Nations World Oceans Day
To commemorate United Nations World Oceans Day, German Environment Minister, Steffi Lemke, is calling for greater protection of the world’s oceans. Given the alarming state of our oceans, marine conservation and sustainable use must go hand in hand with better protection. This year’s United Nations World Oceans Day is dedicated to "Revitalisation – Collective Action for the Ocean".
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke commented: "Healthy oceans are essential for our survival. It is high time that we improve the dire state of our oceans: they are overheated, acidified, overfished, overused and polluted with our plastic waste. We need an integrated approach to solving the triple crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. The G7 Ocean Deal, which we adopted at the end of May, sends an urgently needed political message: global marine conservation must be in harmony with sustainable use. This includes developing a national marine strategy as part of a true push for marine conservation."
The world’s oceans are suffering tremendously from the effects of the climate crisis. When oceans are healthy, they supply oxygen, regulate the climate and have an important function as carbon sinks. The global oceans, for example, have absorbed 20 percent to 30 percent of all CO2 emissions caused by humans since the 1980s. Marine ecosystems like coral reefs and mangrove forests provide essential protection against storm surges, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change. However, last year was the sixth year in a row that the temperature of the ocean’s surface set an all-time high, putting coral reefs in particular at great risk. In addition, marine habitats are under massive pressure from overfishing, pollution from contaminants and overfertilisation, as well as gigantic vortexes of floating plastic waste.
In light of these factors, the German government included a marine campaign in its coalition agreement. The marine campaign will consist of a marine strategy and the coordination of marine policy under the leadership of a marine commissioner. The Federal Environment Ministry, together with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, outlined initial international steps to tackle pollution and promote the protection of marine biodiversity at the One Ocean Summit, a global marine summit under the auspices of the United Nations, in Brest, France, in February 2022.
The G7 climate, energy and environment ministers met under the German Presidency at the end of May and sent a strong joint message for ambitious marine protection and conservation with the Ocean Deal. In this deal, the G7 ministers call for ambitious action at international level to protect the oceans, including in the negotiations for an agreement to protect biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions (BBNJ) and for new marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean, but also with regard to environmental standards for potential deep-sea mining or the UNEA negotiations for a global plastics agreement.
Fresh impetus for the urgently needed protection of the oceans will be provided at the upcoming United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon at the end of June 2022. The hosts, Portugal and Kenya, are convening countries from around the world as well as the international marine community including environmental organisations, churches, academia and business associations to discuss solutions for marine conservation and raise awareness. It is the only international conference held to review a UN Sustainable Development Goal (Goal 14: Life Below Water).