“We need to preserve the productivity and essential ecosystem functions of the oceans as a basis for a prosperous and sustainable future for all,” he told the Pacem in Maribus XXXIII International Conference on Oceans, held in Beijing, China.In a message delivered by Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia O’Brien, Mr. Ban noted the theme of this year’s Conference, “Oceans, Climate Change and Sustainable Development,” spotlights just how important oceans are and the many benefits that are derived from them.Oceans – which cover about two-thirds of the Earth’s surface – generate most of its oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide emissions, provide food and nutrients, regulate climate, and supply fishing and other marine resources for income.“Perhaps most significant is the role that oceans play in regulating the global climate – generating oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” said the Secretary-General.He pointed out that among those on the front lines of climate change are coastal communities, particularly people living in small island developing States. “Halting the decline of coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses, can help to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change while providing numerous social and economic benefits to hundreds of millions of people,” he said.As the world is becoming increasingly aware, he noted, the many benefits of the oceans to human well-being are not limitless and, in some cases, are in peril.Mr. Ban said that with so many people depending on the oceans, it is vital to pursue universal participation in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.Known as the world’s “constitution for the oceans,” the treaty provides the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.In 2008 the General Assembly decided to make World Oceans Day, which was already celebrated by many countries, into an officially-recognized UN annual observance on 8 June to raise global awareness of the threats to the oceans. 3 September 2010Highlighting the centrality of the marine environment to human well-being, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the collective global responsibility to protect the world’s oceans.
The star-studded event brought together 48 prominent personalities from the worlds of art, film, music, sports, literature and public affairs – who are known as UN Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace. They participated in workshops, shared information on the priorities of the UN system and discussed ways for lending greater impetus to the Millennium Development Goals.Speaking at a press conference at UN Headquarters, film star Ms. Jolie said that working with refugees as an Ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had changed her life. She explained that she was attending the meeting to learn about the other parts of the UN and how best to work with the other UN Goodwill Ambassadors.For his part, actor Danny Glover, a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said his decision to become involved with the agency was because of his keen interest in community development and how nations and communities used resources to further advance their particular objectives.Mechai Viravaidya, a senator from Thailand and a Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said he worked in Asia to convince governments there that the biggest AIDS problem would soon be in that continent and not in Africa. His role was to convince governments to stop denying the problem and instead, to make political and financial commitments to addressing HIV/AIDS.Introducing himself as “Moore,” “Roger Moore,” the British actor and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ambassador said the role of a Goodwill Ambassador could be summarized by the two words: good and will. “What is ‘good’ about a Goodwill Ambassador,” he explained to assembled media, “is the good we try to do and one good thing is that you’re here to listen to us.” The “will” was the will to do something for the world, he added.Joining the others at the press conference was Belgian television personality Goedele Liekens, an Ambassador on behalf of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). She said she attended the meeting because it was important for Goodwill Ambassadors to learn how the UN works and important for her to know how to address UN-related topics to the public. During the event, Ms. Liekens said, she had learned much about the UN and would use her experience in Belgium to “tell the world to keep up this good work.”