The oceans make our blue planet unique in our solar system — and not just visually. They help regulate the global climate and are the ultimate source of the water that sustains all life on Earth, from coral reefs to snow-covered mountains, from tropical rain forests to mighty rivers, and even deserts. However, the ability of the oceans to provide their essential services is being threatened by climate change, pollution and unsustainable use.
On this World Oceans Day, we are highlighting the problem of plastic pollution. Eighty per cent of all pollution in the sea comes from land, including some 8 million tons of plastic waste each year. It chokes waterways, harms communities that depend on fishing and tourism, kills turtles and birds, whales and dolphins, and finds its way to the most remote areas of the planet and throughout the food chain on which we ultimately rely. Unless we change course, plastic waste could soon outweigh all the fish in the oceans.
We must work individually and collectively to stop this preventable tragedy and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, including plastic. Action starts at home, and speaks louder than words. The United Nations aims to lead by example, and more than 30 of our agencies have now begun working to end the use of single-use plastic.
But everyone needs to play a part. You can make a difference today – and every day — by doing simple things like carrying your own water bottle, coffee cup and shopping bags, recycling the plastic you buy, avoiding products that contain microplastics and volunteering for a local clean-up.
If we all do a little, our combined actions can be massive. On this World Oceans Day, I urge governments, communities and individuals alike to celebrate our oceans by helping clear them of pollution and ensure they remain vibrant for generations to come.