JOHANNESBURG, 2 SEPTEMBER 2002
STATEMENT BY HE Mr. ANTÓNIO MARTINS DA CRUZ, AMBASSADOR AND MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND OF THE PORTUGUESE COMMUNITIES, TO THE HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON PEOPLE'S OCEANS STEWARDSHIP
It is a pleasure for me to associate myself with this major event on Oceans and Seas taking place in 2002, at the Summit on Sustainable Development. And for a variety of reasons, among which, possibly the first and more meaningful, is the history of my country and its deep connection with the Sea.
It was that connection that brought us, by sea, 5 centuries ago, very close to what is today Johannesburg. We were looking for a passage to India through the Atlantic Ocean and we found it nearby Cape Town, renaming thus that Cape as the Cape of Good Hope.
It was again the sea, at the end of the Twentieth century, which mobilized my country to dedicate to the Oceans and Seas, the universal Expo we organized in 98. This event coincided with the first International Year of the Oceans ever scheduled
In the 1500 as well as at the beginning of this century, Oceans continue to be a vehicle for civilizations to meet and an avenue of communication and trade among people.
Then and now, oceans sustain the livelihoods of millions of people, being a source of food and economic prosperity and providing vital resources for the well being of present and future generations. However, ocean resources continue to be depleted, marine eco-systems heavily affected and environment conditions continue to deteriorate.
Perceptions of the oceans are nevertheless changing radically in the past decades as well as public awareness about the importance of the oceans for the future of mankind. Today, we begin recognizing Oceans as a key element in terms of the planetary balance of eco-systems and as a driving force of the climate and the hydrological cycles.
But we are also discovering how little we know about the impact of Oceans in the overall life supporting system of the planet and how limited is our understanding of ocean processes .It is why Agenda 21 includes a chapter dedicated to “addressing critical uncertainties for the management of the marine environment and climate change”. And how crucial it is scientific knowledge and global monitoring of the state of the oceans.
We acknowledge in this regard that the session of the Forum on Science and Technology promoted today by the European Union and South Africa includes the discussion of the EU Initiative on Global Monitoring for Sustainable Development and, in particular, the Global Ocean Observing system.
One thing we are certain of - the global character of the issues at stake regarding the protection of the largest commons of the planet, confer to the international community a special and unique role and responsibility vis a vis the challenges of ocean governance. Cooperation and coordination of efforts on how to respond to the challenges is of essence.
By 2025, it is estimated that 6,3 billion people – 75% of world population- will live in coastal areas. Already today, 70% of the mega cities, part of them inhabited by people living on less a one dollar by day, are located in coastal areas. Growing populations, demanding for and pressure on living resources and increasing pollution from urbanization and industrialization in coastal areas, are already responsible for 80% of the pollution affecting oceans and its resources. Tourism in coastal areas constitutes a very significant percentage of the national product of developing coastal states.
Integrated management of coastal areas is thus essential to address the complexity of the multiple dimensions of the problem of oceans and coastal management. We are consequently very pleased to highlight the imitative on “Global legislators for improved ocean governance and improved coastal zone management “ that took already place in the Water Forum during the Summit.
However, effective action to improve ocean and coastal management is urgently needed now. In this perspective, we deem essential the Plan of Action to be approved by the Summit as well as the Partnerships in the pipeline to address this issue, in particular the one to be launched at this Summit regarding the management of African coastal areas.
This year, we meet at Johannesburg at the10th anniversary of the Rio Summit, which brought forward the concept of sustainable development, including its consideration when addressing the ocean agenda .We also celebrate this year the 20th anniversary of the Convention of the Law of the Sea.
This coincidence should inspire us for updating, enriching, and integrating the relationship among the two processes, ensuring that oceans and seas management meets the expectations of a 21st century approach.
As the Secretary-General of the United Nations referred in his report to this Summit, it is urgent to establish a framework of principles for global stewardship to protect the earth/sea environment while meeting social and economic needs and aspirations.
Today in this event, we are joining efforts and means of governments, civil society and the business community to give content to practical actions on that direction. Let us embark collectively in the project of crossing the Cape of the Good Hope regarding the state of the oceans and seas in this new century.
I thank all of you the efforts developed to make this meeting possible, giving the oceans the profile they deserve among the many events that made this summit a bold step in the future of ours and next generations.