International cooperation key to saving oceans and our future
By Thaddeus Jones
On 8 June, World Oceans Day, which aims to sensitize citizens around the world to the importance of safeguarding the world's seas, experts are gathered in the Vatican for a one-day conference on the health of the seas and oceans and their role in the present and future of humanity.
Organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Italy's Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn research institute, the meeting aims to share ideas and possible solutions to save the world's oceans, as well as to contribute to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
Sounding the alarm
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences warns that we are living in an "unprecedented period in the history of humanity for the potential impacts on the quality of our lives."
The human impact on the world's seas and oceans is felt more than ever today, the Academy warns, and will continue to grow as the world population rises to an estimated 11 billion people by the end of the century.
For this reason, plans and sustainable practices must be implemented as soon as possible to guarantee global health, the nutrition of the planet, the production of renewable energy, and mineral resources that the world's oceans provide.
The UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainability began in 2021 and aims to meet the sustainable development goals of the UN Agenda 2030, inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ and outlined by world leaders in agreements at the Paris climate summit in 2015.
The one day meeting at the Vatican is examining the current state of the world's seas and oceans, how they sustain humanity now and can in the future, how to protect this universal but limited common good, and how the scientific community and global institutions can work together for the good of all.
Speaking at the meeting are marine biologists, ocean scientists, economists, cultural and religious leaders, as well as representatives of global institutions involved in managing or legislating in these areas.
Cooperation essential for survival
Professor Joachim von Braun, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, warns that our oceans are in "deep trouble," due to pollution, fish exploitation and depletion, and damage to coastal areas.
As a global expert in economic and technological change and a professor at the University of Bonn, Germany, Professor von Braun says it is "absolutely essential that countries cooperate," and overcome operating independently which has led to depleting and harming the oceans in ways that put their and our own futures at risk. He says this includes establishing binding rules regulating the utilization of ocean waters, fisheries, ocean grounds, and mining.
Pope Francis has said that “it is not possible to live healthily in a sick world.”
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences adds that all humanity must work for sustainable growth in the use of sea resources, which are under great stress from due to the human impact on the environment, especially affecting the world's poorest.