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Perspective on Ocean Health and Climate Issues Upon the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon
  • 12
  • 07
  • 2022

Perspective on Ocean Health and Climate Issues Upon the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon

By David Shaw

It was an honor to participate in the 2022 UN Ocean Conference (UNOC 2022) in Lisbon, Portugal where more than 6000 participants, including 24 heads of state, advocated for urgent and concrete actions to tackle our global ocean crisis.  

My activism for ocean health, conservation of nature and climate issues derives from deep appreciation of the natural world and mounting evidence via modern science and technology of ominous human-caused threats.  These include habitat loss, pollution, ocean acidification and deoxygenation, and overextraction of marine wildlife.  

I attended the UNOC as a member of Ocean Elders, and my involvement reflected several other capacities including Patron of Nature at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Fellow of The Explorers Club and AAAS, and roles with The Waterbear Network, Nautilus Media, Running Tide Technologies and Saildrone.  

UNOC 2022 results

An important result of the UNOC in July 2022 was the unanimous adoption of the Lisbon Declaration, a suite of science-based and innovative actions to combat our ocean health crisis.  Via more than 700 commitments registered at the conference, countries agreed on actions ranging from strengthening data collection, recognizing the role of indigenous people in sharing innovation and practices to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international maritime transportation, especially shipping. They also agreed to promote innovative financing solutions to achieve sustainable ocean-based economies and encourage women and girls’ meaningful participation in the ocean-based economy.  

Highlights of this promising new wave of actions include the following:

  • A group of more than 150 countries collectively agreed to scale up science-based and innovative actions to address the ocean emergency
  • More than 100 nations have now pledged to protect 30% of their oceans by 2030
  • Participants announced novel and bold elements of a multibillion-dollar global finance ecosystem to support marine protected areas and blue economy initiatives 
  • 13 countries signed a declaration to expand efforts for protection of endangered coral reefs
  • An alliance of nations was formed to seek a moratorium on deep sea mining  
  • A group of philanthropic organizations committed to invest $1 billion in new ocean conservation efforts 

More comprehensive reports on UNOC outcomes can be found in this article on the UN website, and this article in MONGABAY, News & Inspiration from Nature’s Frontline.

I created a short film that highlights my experience at the Conference, as well as my involvement in ocean conservation:

Congratulations to all those who contributed to these efforts to brighten the future of ocean and planetary health.