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Key messages for World Ocean Day

Messages from Salvatore Aricò, ISC, and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, as well as our Affiliated Bodies on World Ocean Day 2023, including the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research who will host a new collaborative centre for the southern ocean region

Salvatore Aricò, CEO, ISC

We tend to refer to the figure of 70 percent of the planet’s surface being ‘ocean’. This is true. But the space corresponding to the overall volume of the world ocean represents a staggering 98 percent of the livable space on Earth!

The many benefits provided by the ocean – mitigating CO2 emissions, providing proteins and medicines, inspiring and feeding cultures – are threatened by climate change, pollution, over-exploitation of resources and inadequate conservation measures. The livelihoods of those hundreds of millions of peoples depending on the ocean are not preserved by proper legal and policy frameworks.

Regardless of our distance from the ocean, it is crucial to protect it for the collective benefit of humanity. Is there anything more universally shared and indivisible than the ocean?

No, there is not.

The ocean is then truly universal, it builds bridges among countries, economies, cultures, epistemologies and values. The drivers of ocean sustainability are all on the social side of the equation: if we succeed in linking human perceptions, values and behavior with the way ocean policies are designed, we can succeed in maintaining this great capital for human sustainability that we steward.

The International Science Council promotes an integrated lens through which to study and revert the current trajectories in our unsustainable relationship with nature and societies. This also concerns our shared ocean. Actionable knowledge derived from interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary science can and should help. The ISC commits to mobilizing its membership, expertise and knowledge to pursue our our common ocean cause.

Wishing all a good Ocean Day. 

Salvatore Aricò

CEO, International Science Council


António Guterras, United Nations, Secretary-General

The ocean is the foundation of life.

It supplies the air we breathe and food we eat.

It regulates our climate and weather.

The ocean is our planet’s greatest reservoir of biodiversity.

Its resources sustain communities, prosperity and human health around the world.

Humanity counts on the ocean.

But can the ocean count on us?

We should be the ocean’s best friend.

But right now, humanity is its worst enemy.

Human-induced climate change is heating our planet, disrupting weather patterns and ocean currents, and altering marine ecosystems and the species living there.  

Marine biodiversity is under attack from overfishing, over-exploitation and ocean acidification.

Over one-third of fish stocks are being harvested at unsustainable levels. 

And we are polluting our coastal waters with chemicals, plastics and human waste.

But this year’s World Oceans Day reminds us that the tides are changing.  

Last year, we adopted an ambitious global target to conserve and manage 30 per cent of land and marine and coastal areas by 2030, as well as a landmark agreement on fisheries subsidies.

At the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, the world agreed to push for more positive ocean action.

A global, legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution is under negotiation.

And in March, countries agreed to the historic High Seas Treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Realizing the great promise of these initiatives requires collective commitment.

Sustainable Development Goal 14 — to conserve and sustainably use the ocean’s resources — hangs in the balance.

This World Oceans Day, let’s keep pushing for action.

Today and every day, let’s put the ocean first.

António Guterras

United Nations Secretary-General


Find out more:

ISC Affiliated Bodies and Oceans

Ice in the Antarctica

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research to host new decade collaborative centre for the southern ocean region.

A new Decade Collaborative Centre for the Southern Ocean Region joins the global ecosystem of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. The announcement comes as part of a collection of newly endorsed Decade Actions to celebrate the 2023 UN World Oceans Day.

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Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research

The Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) was formed in 1957 to help address interdisciplinary science questions related to the ocean. 

SCOR is an international non-governmental non-profit organization. The SCOR Secretariat is hosted at the University of Delaware (USA) and SCOR is incorporated in the State of Maryland as a 501(c)(3) organization. Read More


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