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Children from global ocean icons call world leaders at UN General Assembly to save the ocean for future generations

June 13, 2017 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

Today, children from more than 10 UNESCO marine World Heritage sites including Papahānaumokuākea (USA), Lord Howe Island Group (Australia) and Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles), called upon world leaders to sign a pledge to protect the ocean for future generations.  The children launched the pledge in front of over 40 Heads of State at the United Nations General Assembly on World Oceans Day.

The children have travelled from some of the remotest places on Earth to highlight the global nature of the threats posed to the ocean, and the need for collective action. Each child lives in a UNESCO marine World Heritage site, an area that has been recognized for its Outstanding Universal Value, and protected for humanity under the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The international community has committed to care for our natural wonders, and these children are bearing a message of hope: if we work together, we can overcome today’s ocean challenges.

Like the rest of the world’s ocean, World Heritage marine sites are suffering from the impacts of climate change, including warming waters, stronger storms, rising seas, and ocean acidification. The children know that decisions made today will have ripple effects for generations to come.

They unveiled the pledge, titled My Ocean Pledge, on stage at the United Nations General Assembly Hall, and then invited world leaders to sign their commitment during a signature ceremony. 

People from across the globe will be invited to sign the pledge digitally on the website of  UNESCO’s World Heritage Marine Programme , http://whc.unesco.org/myoceanpledge. Children who live in UNESCO marine World Heritage sites, but who were unable to travel to New York in person, have made video pledges launching a social media movement #MyOceanPledge. Video pledges have been posted from across the planet including sites such as the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, the Wadden Sea in Netherlands/Germany/Denmark, The Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati to name a few.

Mechtild Rössler, Director of the World Heritage Centre, said “The world’s ocean is at a tipping point. Climate change is already affecting several World Heritage marine sites, and no place on earth is immune to this global threat. There is hope, however. We still have a chance to save our ocean treasures. But we must act now, and we must work together. Future generations will inherit the consequences of our actions − or inaction.”

This initiative is made possible by the generous support of the Government of Flanders, the Explorers Club, Stefan & Irina Hearst and the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.

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