U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched Sunday a new initiative to promote the sustainable development of the oceans, urging the world to achieve "healthy oceans for prosperity."
The new Oceans Compact aims to bring all U.N.-linked organizations together in improving the coordination and effectiveness of their work on oceans. It also promotes the engagement of non-governmental organizations, businesses and academics to tackle challenges in protecting and restoring the health and productivity of the oceans.
The launch was made at an international conference, held in the southwestern port city of Yeosu, to mark the 30th anniversary of the U.N. maritime treaty named the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"If we are to fully benefit from the oceans, we must address a multitude of threats," Ban told the conference. "What we need is to create new momentum for ocean sustainability.
"That is why I have decided to launch, today, a new initiative to strengthen United Nations system-wide work on oceans matters and support the implementation of the Law of the Sea," said Ban, who arrived in South Korea on Saturday for a four-day visit.
Ban cited piracy, pollution, irregular migration by sea, over-exploitation of marine living resources and "the growing menace of climate change" as some of the threats the world now faces.
"Our oceans are heating and expanding," Ban said. "We risk irrevocable changes in processes that we barely comprehend, such as the great currents that affect weather patterns."
The launch of the Oceans Compact followed Ban's announcement earlier this year of his priorities for his second, five-year term, which include oceans.
Ban said he decided to give strong emphasis to the importance of oceans and their role in sustainable development by putting forward the new initiative that would commit the U.N. system to furthering the sustainable development of oceans.
To come up with ideas for the initiative and facilitate talks among stakeholders, Ban proposed creating an "Ocean Advisory Group" of high-level policymakers, scientists and leading ocean experts, representatives from the private sector.
Also, Ban called for the world to do more in implementing the U.N. maritime treaty.
"I urge you to continue to raise awareness about ocean issues and the Law of the Sea," Ban said. "It is 30 years since the convention was opened for signature, yet it has not been ratified by all who have signed it.
"Just as the oceans span our blue planet, let us make it our goal to bring all nations under the jurisdiction, protection and guidance of this essential treaty," he said.
The world "can achieve healthy oceans for prosperity and sustainable development for all." (Yonhap)