In literature, there are countless stories of adventures across the ‘7 seas’, each body of water with its own history, character and culture. For most of history each of our oceans were seen as a different world, similar but disconnected, in the same way as the continents. Even today when we speak of the Atlantic or Indian or Pacific, it’s easy to think of the water they contain as being separate bodies of water. But of course, that is not the case. Our oceans are deeply interconnected. The waters they contain flow across the globe, and the health of the ocean in one area can have impacts on them all.
The Pacific holds over 707.5 million km3 of water, more than twice the amount of any other ocean body. As a result, there is no region on earth with a greater potential to impact the overall health of the worlds ocean waters. Recognising this, in the Pacific, we have just launched the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
It is not luck that has made our part of the ocean is one of the healthiest and most biodiverse areas in the world. Despite is small widely dispersed population, the people of the Pacific have a long and deep history and culture of understanding, protecting and managing their ocean waters.
Our region has invested in cooperative and collaborative development and scientific organizations, including the Pacific Community, in recognition of the value, and of the need, to manage its ocean resources collectively. Through these Pacific owned institutions, the region has been successful in combining traditional knowledge, cultural practices and modern science to create an approach to ocean management that is unique in the world.
As a result, the Pacific today is well positioned to offer its expertise and experience in leading the global efforts to protect the world’s oceans. We have the people, we have proven historical commitment from across our Island nations, and we are investing in the science and data infrastructures to ensure that policies and activities to protect the oceans will be based on solid, effective and measurable foundations.
However, we cannot do this alone. Just as the ocean waters are interconnected globally, so too must be the actions we take to protect them. This year’s Council of the Parties (COP) meetings in Glasgow are a perfect opportunity for the Pacific to reinforce the importance of Ocean health as a keystone for action on climate change. Pacific regional and national leaders will be making their case to the global community and encouraging world leaders to make meaningful investments to support our Blue Pacific and indeed our global oceanscape.
Working together we can make The UN Decade of Ocean Science more than just a motto, but rather a decade of cooperation and common action to preserve our oceans and create a healthy and sustainable world for us all.