A resort along Wasini Island's coast. [iStockphoto]

The United Nations member states unanimously adopted the Lisbon Declaration on sustainable use of oceans, seas, and marine resources.

The Declaration made in Portugal in July is aimed at improving the health, productivity and resilience of oceans and their ecosystems via sustainable fishing.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta was elected president of the 2022 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 on ocean conservation.

Other declarations include reducing vulnerability to climate change impacts and supporting sustainable livelihoods, including for indigenous peoples and local communities.

Some goals like protecting and restoring ecosystems, and conserving coastal and marine areas were meant to be achieved in 2020, but countries fell short.

President Kenyatta reiterated that human actions have put the oceans system under immense stress and “we note with concern that SDG 14 is the most underfunded of all the 17 SDGs. It is the most underappreciated resource on our planet as most of us do not comprehend how central the ocean is to human existence.”

Oceans cover 70 per cent of the global surface, with about three billion people depending on marine and coastal biodiversity, according to the United Nations. Oceans are home to about 80 per cent of life in the world and it supplies nearly half of the oxygen we breathe.

“We dump eight million tonnes of plastics and contaminate at least 700 million species of marine life,” said President Kenyatta. “We are also threatening the stability of the fish population through illegal and unregulated fishing.”

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko said, “About 88 per cent of litter on Kenyan beaches is of Kenyan origin.”

Tobiko said “marine litter challenge is both a national and a transboundary problem,” but Kenya has launched the National Marine Litter Management Action Plan (2021- 2030) to solve that problem.

Environment PS Chris Kiptoo said most plastics in oceans originate from land through rivers to the sea.

President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebello de Sousa, said politicians often come and go yet oceans stay and “they are millions of years old and will be there provided we take care of them and stop killing them.”

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