The world’s oceans—which account for about 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface—are facing diverse challenges ranging from depleted fishery resources to the impacts of climate change, the deterioration of the marine environment, to issues of maritime safety and security, labour conditions for seafarers and the increasingly important issue of migration by sea.
World Oceans Day, which had been unofficially celebrated every June 8 since its original proposal in 1992 by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008. Since then it has been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with greater success and global participation each year.
Looking ahead to next year’s Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message for World Oceans Day 2011, said “All activities and policies related to oceans and the marine environment need to acknowledge and incorporate the three pillars of sustainable development: environmental, social and economic. Only then can we achieve the development objectives set by the international community.”