From left, Global Forum Co-Chair Biliana Cicin-Sain,
Associate Scientist Miriam Balgos, Research Fellow
Gwenaelle Hamon, and graduate student Joe Appiott
at the UNFCCC. Photo by Katernya Wowk
Oceans Day, held Dec. 4 at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 16) in Cancún, drew high-level attention to the critical need to protect the central role of the oceans as the Earth’s life support system. This was the second Oceans Day to be held at a meeting of the UNFCCC and was co-organized by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, which is housed at the University of Delaware.
Attending the event were more than 90 participants from governments, international organizations, business, academia, and NGOs, who emphasized the need to address the implications of climate change for oceans and coasts by reducing greenhouse emissions and implementing adaptation measures.
If action is not taken, participants said, the world's oceans will face disastrous consequences, which will compromise their role in absorbing carbon dioxide and in regulating climate. Additionally, coastal and island communities in 183 coastal nations around the world will suffer disproportionately from impacts such as sea-level rise, glacial retreat, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification (the changing of the ocean’s pH).
Climate change effects in coastal areas and oceans are already happening, participants said, and world leaders need to take bold action to address the negative consequences, especially through rapid and adequate financing for vulnerable coastal communities. Leaders also need to begin transforming our societies into carbon-free economies, including through ocean-based renewable energy.
Learn more about the outcomes of this event with the following documents:
• The Summary Report of Cancun Oceans Day prepared by the International Institute for Sustainable Development; and
• The Co-Chairs’ Statement