Secretary-General António Guterres, actor and ocean activist Jason Momoa, and the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, gathered today (26 Jun) at Carcavelos Beach, in Portugal, with delegates from all over the world, kickstarting the Ocean Conference that will take place this week in Lisbon.
Momoa made a special appearance alongside UN Special Envoy for the Ocean Peter Thomson.
Under the blazing sun at Carcavelos, surrounded on the wide sandy beach by youth, including his own children, Momoa said “without a healthy ocean, life as we know it in our planet would not exist.”
Momoa received the ‘Nature’s Baton’ from Special Envoy Thomson, a symbol of the link between the world’s existential challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss and the state of the ocean’s health.
The two-day event brought together young activists from some 165 countries with a shared goal: protecting the Ocean.
Addressing the Forum, Guterres said the fossil fuel industry, has for decades “been spending millions and millions in false science, in public relations. Trying to give the impression that the fossil fuels are not really contaminating the world and that climate change was not exactly what people would say.”
Comparing it to the tobacco industry, he said, “it’s time for these behaviours to be seriously condemned.”
Speaking in front of 100 youth advocates who gathered to inspire, amplify, and accelerate youth action for our ocean, Guterres reiterated the need to rescue the planet.
At Carcavelos beach, on the edge of the ocean near the centre of his home city, Lisbon, the Secretary-General apologized on behalf of his generation for the state of the oceans, for the state of biodiversity and for the state of climate change.
He said, “let’s be honest when I look at myself, and my own behaviour, my footprint in the planet is too big. And there’s my footprint in the planet is too big, we have now the use of about 1.4 of our planets, and if the whole world would have the lifestyle and the living conditions of developed countries, we will be now using three planets, but we have only one.”
President Rebelo de Sousa encouraged young people to participate. He said, “if that’s the case of having the way of participating, wonderful, if you don’t have it, you force it. You must force it.”
Youth activist Carlos Perez, from Colombia called for people “to demand for an Ocean Ministry.”
Perez, one of the liveliest of the young activists said, “what we think is that we need policy frameworks. We need policy frameworks to work on to have a baseline to work all around the globe. This is why we invite you, youth delegates, citizens, artists, youth delegates, leaders of the world, to demand for an Ocean Ministry. It is time to get our connecting force to the value it deserves.”
The Forum was a unique opportunity for young people to contribute to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14), just before the start of the UN Ocean Conference, taking place from 27 June through 1 July, to seek science-based and innovative solutions to improve the health of our ocean.
Young entrepreneurs, innovators, and solutionists scaled up their initiatives, projects, and ideas with professional training and matchmaking with mentors, investors, the private sector, and government officials to maximize their impact.
The governments of Portugal and Kenya co-hosted the event, organized by the UN Global Compact Ocean Stewardship Coalition in cooperation with CEiiA, the Municipality of Cascais, Nova School of Business and Economics (NOVA SBE) and Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) supported by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).