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High-Level Debate on the Ocean to Lead Month-Long Focus on Environmental Action

Date: 29 May 2021

Key events and global summits to focus attention on a ‘green-blue recovery’ from COVID-19

The President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkır, will convene a High-Level Thematic Debate on the Ocean and Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water on Tuesday, 1 June 2021, at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Supported by the Governments of Portugal and Kenya, as well as H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, the high-level debate is intended to refocus the global narrative around environmental concerns, which had been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With high-profile meetings scheduled in 2021 and 2022 on oceans, climate change, land degradation and biodiversity, the world has an opportunity to redirect resources and build political will and public support for environmental action, potentially staving off future crises. Tied to this is the need to ensure a ‘blue-green recovery’ from COVID-19, as well as to encourage Member States to direct resources earmarked for recovery towards projects that boost environmental protection.

In addition to building resilience, protecting the ocean offers significant socio-economic gains. Coastal and marine ecosystems provide food, livelihoods and coastal protection, to more than a billion people worldwide. The value of ocean-related economic activities is already in excess of USD $1.5 trillion annually.

Yet, climate change-induced ocean acidification has been shown to ‘bleach’ coral reefs and destroy entire ecosystems, diminishing biodiversity and impairing the ocean’s capacity to absorb CO2. In addition, it is expected that the metric weight of plastic in the ocean will exceed the metric weight of fish by 2050 if current pollution trends continue.

The high-level debate, which will see increased attendance in the UN General Assembly due to reduced restrictions around COVID-19, is the first of a month-long series of events and thematic days in June, including World Environment Day on 5 June, World Oceans Day on 8 June and the Intergovernmental Consultative Process on Oceans, which this year will focus on sea level rise and all of its impacts.

With a second Ocean Conference delayed due to the ongoing pandemic, and four SDG14 targets having matured in 2020, Member States and the international community will benefit from a progress update on the achievement of SDG14, and the ocean-related goals.

When: Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Where: General Assembly Hall and broadcast live and on-demand on

Speakers to include:

  • H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkır, President of the General Assembly
  • H.E. Mr. Ricardo Serrão Santos, Minister of the Sea, Portugal
  • H.E. Ms. Raychelle Omamo, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Kenya
  • H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean
  • Ms. Maggie Q, actress, SDG14 Advocate, activist, Founder of QEEP UP™
  • Cody Simpson, actor/musician, UNDP Ocean Advocate

Programme and full list of speakers:

Social Media: #SaveOurOcean

For more information, please contact:




*Article originally published by UN News:…