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Burling and Tuke bring together 120+ voices for a healthy ocean

by Kelsey Hunter 28 Jun 01:27 NZST 28 June 2022
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke with the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Thomson at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon © Live Ocean

Sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke presented a commitment of over 120 leading sportspeople and ocean communities to UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Thomson at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon on Monday.

The Live Ocean Voices for a Healthy Ocean declaration has been signed by leaders including former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, master navigator Hoturoa Barclay Kerr, and Lady Pippa Blake as well as an array of sportspeople from sailors, surfers, and wingfoilers to rowers, skiiers, windsurfers, teams, and those who simply love the ocean and understand it's importance from cricket, tennis, and rugby.

People like Jimmy Spithill, Dee Caffari, Romain Troublé, John John Florence, Hannah Mills, Mahe Drysdale, Sam Cane, Ana Ivanovic, Kane Williamson, Will Trubridge, Tom Slingsby, Barbara Kendall, Anthony Mosse, and Elizabeth Biesel. The full list of signatories can be found here.

The pair presented Ambassador Thomson with the Voices for a Healthy Ocean commitment symbol, a life ring. A symbol of distress but also of hope, the symbol will travel with Burling and Tuke as they race around the world, encouraging more people to sign on.

The UN Ocean Conference, hosted by the governments of Kenya and Portugal, runs for a full week until July 1 in Lisbon and will be attended by heads of government and state, together with leaders from the private sector and the scientific community. Gathering for the first time in five years, they will chart a new course to ensure the protection and conservation of the ocean and its resources to avert catastrophic consequences for the planet.

Ambassador Peter Thomson, UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean says, "Thousands of solutions exist to help restore the health of the ocean, but it will require all-hands-on deck, with commitment from our leaders through to every one of us for communal action to make these solutions succeed. It is very encouraging to see sportspeople and ocean communities step up to the challenge and show the way by word and deed."

The 100+ Voices for a Healthy Ocean signatories commit to start conversations, raise awareness, and share stories to recognise the key role that the ocean plays in addressing climate change, share an integrated vision for all water, champion knowledge held by indigenous peoples and coastal communities, raise awareness on protecting and restoring ocean ecosystems and support solutions working to meet SDG14 - life below water and SDG6 - clean water and sanitation.

Tuke says, "Protecting and restoring the ocean is one of the biggest challenges of our time, with many of the issues the ocean faces out of sight. We are encouraging people to step up and use their voice to champion the ocean by starting conversations and sharing knowledge with their communities. We urgently need to change the trajectory for the health of the ocean."

Burling says, "The ocean is our largest carbon sink and our greatest ally in the fight against climate change, we need to start prioritizing it. Working together we can create a healthy and productive ocean that contributes to a healthy future. It's time for action."

Live Ocean Foundation Chief Executive Sally Paterson says "The science is clear the ocean is changing very rapidly but both attitudes and policy aren't keeping pace. The people who have signed this declaration have platforms of their own to move this conversation forward with urgency and ambition. We take these names to the UN Ocean Conference with great pride."

About Live Ocean

Live Ocean is a foundation and sailing team committed to action for the ocean. Founded by sailors and ocean champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, we are on a mission to connect and ignite people around the role a healthy ocean plays in a healthy future. Everything we do - every time we race, every project we back, every partnership we form, every innovation we shape - takes the message of positive ocean action to the world.?

About the 2022 UN Ocean Conference

The ocean covers 70 percent of the Earth's surface, is the planet's largest biosphere, and is home to up to 80 percent of all life in the world. It generates 50 percent of the oxygen we need, absorbs 25 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions and captures 90 percent of the additional heat generated from those emissions. It is not just 'the lungs of the planet' but also its largest carbon sink - a vital buffer against the impacts of climate change.

It nurtures unimaginable biodiversity and produces food, jobs, mineral and energy resources needed for life on the planet to survive and thrive. There is a great deal we still do not know about the ocean but there are many reasons why we need to manage it sustainably - as set out in the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.

The science is clear - the ocean is facing unprecedented threats as a result of human activities. Its health and ability to sustain life will only get worse as the world population grows and human activities increase. If we want to address some of the most defining issues of our time such as climate change, food insecurity, diseases and pandemics, diminishing biodiversity, economic inequality and even conflicts and strife, we must act now to protect the state of our ocean.

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