UN Ocean Conference looks at the coastal communities

Staff Reporter

Around the world, millions of people depend on healthy freshwater and thriving oceans to survive. Not only do these water bodies provide livelihoods, jobs and food, but they are also critical for economic growth, to regulate our climate and to support the well-being of coastal communities.

As the 2022 UN Ocean Conference opened in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon on 27 June, political leaders and decision-makers convened for the High-Level Symposium on Water – Bridging SDG 6 and SDG 14 in the Plenary Hall of the Altice Arena.

Bringing together two interlinked communities, where one is working to realize SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation, and the other on SDG 14 on life below water, the event was part of the preparatory meetings for the UN 2023 Water Conference, which will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 22-24 March 2023.

“I am  pleased that this symposium has brought together political leaders and high-level decision-makers dealing both with “fresh” and “salt” water, to reflect on how to connect these two communities to guarantee an integrated vision of the water cycle, from source-to-sea,” said UN  DESA Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin, as he addressed the opening of the symposium.

In his address, Mr. Liu cautioned that despite their vital importance, these resources are “being negatively impacted by unsustainable patterns of production and consumption,” calling for urgent steps to alleviate these threats.

“We have an obligation to highlight the importance of coordinating efforts to achieve these two critical SDGs,” Mr. Liu stressed. “Upstream developments on land and along rivers can have detrimental downstream effects on coastal zones and marine environments, if not managed in a sustainable manner.”

He also encouraged the two communities to work even closer together, reaping the benefits of mutual collaboration.

“Let us use this event today to start turning this commitment into real progress,” Mr. Liu said. “If we work hard, we will get through the obstacles on the way forward. I commit to do my part as the Secretary-General of both the Ocean Conference and the UN 2023 Water Conference,” he concluded.

During the opening, Duarte Cordeiro, Minister for Environment and Climate Action of Portugal, Francis O. Owino, Principal Secretary, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives of Kenya, and Daler Juma, Minister for Energy and Water Resources, Tajikistan, also took the stage to deliver remarks.

The event was organized by the Government of Portugal, together with the Government of Kenya, and with the support of UN DESA and UN-Water.