From the microscopic phytoplankton that produce about half of the world’s oxygen to the blue whale, the largest creature that has ever existed on our planet, the oceans host a diversity of life that is truly breathtaking. These majestic ecosystems perform a balancing act that keeps our planet healthy and vibrant.
However, the health of our oceans is currently under serious threat due to overfishing, pollution, climate change, and habitat destruction. Now more than ever, there’s a pressing need for sustainable practices and conservation measures to protect this critical resource. Our survival, and that of countless other species, hinges on our ability to maintain the health and vitality of our oceans.
On this year’s World Oceans Day, held on June 8, we are reminded of the pivotal role that oceans play in our lives. Beyond providing at least half of our planet’s oxygen, the ocean is also a major source of protein, feeding over a billion people worldwide.
By 2030, the ocean economy is projected to employ 40 million people in industries ranging from shipping and fisheries to marine biotechnology and renewable energy. As much as the ocean gives, however, it is currently in a state of crisis, desperate for our support and intervention.
Ninety percent of the world’s big fish populations are depleted, and half of our coral reefs, the “rainforests of the sea,” have been destroyed. The stark reality is that we are extracting from the ocean much more than it can replenish, disrupting the delicate balance of marine life.
In light of these challenges, the United Nations has themed this year’s World Oceans Day as “Planet Ocean: tides are changing.” It is a call to action, urging world leaders, indigenous communities, scientists, industry chiefs, civil societies, celebrities, and young activists to band together and focus on restoring the health of the ocean.
World Oceans Day serves as a timely reminder of the ocean’s fundamental role in our existence. It is more than just a body of water – it is the lungs of our planet, a major source of food and medicine, and a critical part of the biosphere. This global day of observance offers the public an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the ocean’s significance and the impacts of human actions on this vast ecosystem.
As part of this awareness initiative, the United Nations is galvanizing a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean. The aim is to mobilize and unite the global population behind a sustainable management plan for the world’s oceans.
This year, the United Nations has organized a hybrid celebration to commemorate World Oceans Day. An in-person event will take place at the UN Headquarters in New York and will be broadcasted live, making the observance accessible to people worldwide. The event, hosted by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations, in partnership with the non-profit organization Oceanic Global, and supported by Panerai, will focus on the theme of “Planet Ocean: tides are changing.”
This year’s World Oceans Day is more than just an observance – it’s an urgent plea for change. It is time for us to create a new balance with the ocean. It’s time to acknowledge that the tides are indeed changing, and it is up to us to steer the course toward a future where humans and oceans can thrive together.
Why is World Oceans Day important?
The health of the ocean is intimately linked with the health of the entire planet and its inhabitants. As such, the sustainable management and conservation of the oceans are paramount for our survival and well-being. The ocean holds immense importance for various reasons:
Phytoplankton in the ocean produce about 50% of the world’s oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Additionally, the ocean absorbs a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, playing a crucial role in mitigating climate change.
The ocean acts as a massive heat and moisture regulator. It absorbs solar energy and redistributes it around the globe, helping to regulate climate and weather patterns. Ocean currents transfer warm water and rainfall from the equator to the poles and cold water from the poles back toward the equator.
The ocean is home to an enormous variety of life forms, ranging from the tiniest microbes to the largest mammals on Earth. This biodiversity is not just fascinating but is also crucial for ecosystem stability and food chains.
The ocean is a primary source of protein for billions of people worldwide. Fisheries and aquaculture are critical industries that supply a substantial portion of the global population with fish and other seafood.
Many marine organisms have unique properties that are used in medications. Research into ocean-based substances has led to the development of treatments for various ailments, including cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.
Oceans are vital for the global economy. Industries such as fishing, shipping, tourism, and offshore drilling provide employment and income for millions of people around the world.
For many, the ocean has significant cultural value and is a source of inspiration and recreation. Many communities have cultural ties to the sea, and activities such as sailing, surfing, and scuba diving are popular pastimes.
The ocean has historically been and continues to be a major route for transportation of goods between countries and continents. The majority of international trade is conducted by sea.
The ocean is a rich resource for scientific research. Understanding the ocean is fundamental to understanding Earth’s environment. It is also used as a living classroom, offering endless learning opportunities in sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental studies.
The aesthetic value of oceans is immense. The natural beauty of seas and coasts is a source of inspiration for art, literature, and music.