Statement on the Observance of #WorldOceanDay

By: Heherson T. Alvarez

                             former Senator who served as Environment and Climate Change Secretary


World Ocean Day is observed on June 8 with the theme “Our Oceans, Our Future”  geared inform, mobilize, unite the world’s population for the sustainable management of the world’s ocean, considered the lungs of our planet.

The Ocean Conference is being held at the United Nations General Assembly from June 5-9, 2017. Secretary-General António Guterres has succinctly portrayed the danger humanity faces as sea-level rise threatens life on earth. He states “Acidification, coral bleaching, the loss of biodiversity, with global warming and extreme changing weather patterns is causing alternating frequent typhoons and droughts where fisheries are collapsing and dead zones because of lack of oxygen are the virtual underwater deserts.”

The care of the oceans as well as the forests was part of the discussion in a climate smart roadmap forged at a Tripartite Conference held recently at the Manila Hotel under the patronage of UNESCO and underscored as a country for ASEAN 50 in 2017. The effort was initiative initiated by civil society led by the Earthsavers UNESCO DREAM Center and Sagot Kita Bayan with Climate Institute, the International Theatre Institute (ITI) and Clean Air Philippines. It had the partnership of the executive and legislative branches of the government and the international community. The twin approach to be formally adopted is conservation and sustainable use of marine resources that includes management of fisheries, reducing pollution, cleaning up plastic debris and prevention of nuclear waste, expanding marine protected areas and defending watersheds from destruction. There exists incontrovertible data from studies of the Global Science Report launched by UNESCO Director-General, Dr. Irina Bokova that “records for the first time where and how existing ocean science capacities are empowering society and generating knowledge to conserve ocean resources.”

A strategic vision is essential in promoting the health of the oceans with multilateral coordinated action. A Call for Action is bound to be signed at the United Nations before the end of the week. Will President Donald Trump give the nod to its United Nations Ambassador to sign? In casting away several decades of well-informed debates, scientific investigation and evidence laid out by the U.N Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), President Trump has become an isolated negative force for destruction which does not represent the interest of the American people, much less of humanity.

Peoples and leaders of the world have derided and expressed dismay on Trump’s intransigence in governance by withdrawing from the Paris Accord. Within America, an alliance of communities and governors, including the two largest, California and New York which represent 20% GDP of the U.S have converged in disgust to defy Trump’s nay saying stand claiming it as uninformed and regressive. They pledge to carry on with the task of mitigation and adaptation.

Trump’s stand has not diminished the strength of the global movement to save the earth. It has, in fact, solidified and clarified the direction of the movement.

Climate change can be managed. It is doable by deploying more of the capacity, funding and technology for alternative energy which we have in abundance in our country: wind, solar radiance, geothermal, waste management and other clean sources.

Indeed, the rehabilitation of our water bodies cannot happen with a denial of science that portrays the toll of global warming on our oceans due to excessive carbon dioxide emissions and human folly in overexploitation, unregulated and destructive fishing, marine pollution and habitat destruction.

A multidisciplinary cooperative approach to protection of our water bodies and a strong link between the private and public sector for the protection of marine and coastal environment while building resilient communities in response to climate catastrophes has been lifelong advocacy of my public service.

Heherson T. Alvarez is the founding Chairman of Earthsavers, designated as the 6th in the world as UNESCO DREAM Center and currently Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Climate Institute.


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