On World Oceans Day we caught up with Isabella Lövin, a Green politician from Sweden who serves as both the deputy prime minister and minister of international development cooperation and climate.
She’s at the UN headquarters in New York to attend the biggest conference in history dedicated to the condition of the world’s oceans.
The historic event, co-hosted by Sweden and the republic of Fiji, will see the world come together from 5 – 9 June to reverse the decline in the health of our oceans due to stresses like climate change, plastic litter, over-fishing and pollution.
Because the oceans can’t wait any longer, Isabella said that this event will be a “game changer.” She also made clear that under her leadership Sweden would renew its commitments to both the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement.
Sweden’s priorities at the conference are to:
- Reduce marine debris with a focus on plastic in the oceans.
- Create a sustainable blue economy with a focus on overfishing.
- Mitigate the affects that climate change have on the oceans.
- Create new partnerships and initiatives with governments and intergovernmental organisations, and raise public awareness and engagement.
To mark the occasion, the Swedish Green Party – Miljöpartiet de gröna – compiled a list of facts about the oceans and why they need to be protected:
1. 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year. This is equivalent to more than a truck every minute. Littering our nature and oceans is one of the biggest environmental problems of our time.
2. It takes up to 450 years for a PET-bottle to decompose in nature. The problem with plastic that is thrown into the ocean is that it decomposes at an excruciatingly slow rate and therefore remains in nature for hundreds of years.
3. Approximately 80% of ocean waste originates on land.
4. You can find plastic waste in any ocean of the world. In about 30 years there might be more plastic than fish in the ocean.
5. The percentage of fish that is overfished, depleted or recovering from overfishing has increased from 60% to almost 90%. In the mid-seventies it stood at 60%, in 2005 it was 75%, and almost 90% in 2013.
6. It is the world’s poorest countries that are the ones most affected by the climate changes that affect the oceans. There, many people depend on fishing for survival.
7. Fish constitutes 20% of animal sourced protein for around 3 billion people. It is thus an important source of protein for many people in the world.
8. Both overfishing and poaching increase injustice and poverty in the world. Poaching is strongly linked to other criminal acts such as slavery and human trafficking.
9.The cost of maladministration of global fishing ads up to 83 billion US dollars per year in default revenue. Sustainable fishing (when fish stocks have the time to recover and adapt to their new conditions) would increase financial profitability and feed more people.
10. Since the 1970’s the ocean has protected us from the worst consequences of climate change. The ocean has absorbed more than 93% of the heat that humans have contributed to the earth since the 1970’s through the greenhouse effect and other activities. We do not know, however, how long the ocean can continue to do this.
11. Climate change has caused ocean acidification. Since the industrial revolution the acidification of the oceans has increased by nearly 30%.
12. The sea is home to almost a million different species. If there is no radical decrease of the amount of carbon dioxide that we produce, the ocean acidification will disturb the growth of the world’s coral reefs.