You are viewing an archived web page, collected at the request of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) using Archive-It. This page was captured on 20:07:32 Apr 01, 2022, and is part of the UNESCO collection. The information on this web page may be out of date. See All versions of this archived page.
Loading media information hide

© iStock.com

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Oceans Day 2017

Our Ocean, Our Future

This year, we celebrate World Oceans Day with the first-ever United Nations Ocean Conference. This ground-breaking event brings together Heads of State, high-level dignitaries and actors from across the world, to build partnerships and strengthen the commitments needed to implement the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development -- to conserve and sustainably use an ocean that gives humankind the keys to its survival, from oxygen to a well-functioning climate, to key elements of our natural and human heritage.


A healthy ocean requires robust global knowledge of ocean science. We cannot manage what we cannot measure, and no single country is able to measure the myriad changes taking place in the ocean.

For this, we must nurture, mobilize and harness the best scientific knowledge.

A healthy ocean requires robust global knowledge of ocean science. We cannot manage what we cannot measure, and no single country is able to measure the myriad changes taking place in the ocean. From Fiji to Sweden, from Namibia to the Arctic, all Governments and partners must share knowledge to craft common science-based policies.

This is the goal of the Global Ocean Science Report, launched at the United Nations Ocean Conference by UNESCO -- this records for the first time where and how existing ocean science capacities are empowering society, sustaining the environment and generating knowledge to conserve ocean resources for all. Our message is clear -- much has been done to promote and finance ocean science, but much more is required to fill the capacity gaps.

‘Business-as-usual’ is not enough to deliver the future we want by 2030. Achieving SDG14 calls for new science-based solutions and their transformation into informed policies and decisions. This is why UNESCO and partners are calling for 2021-2030 to become the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, in order to provide Governments, the scientific community, civil society and all other actors with a framework for coordinating and consolidating the observations and research needed to achieve SDG14.

We invite everyone interested to join us and help transform ideas into a broad plan of concerted action with shared goals and responsibilities.

World Oceans Day is an opportunity for all of us to take measure of the global sustainable development challenges we face and to unite for the ocean we need for the future we want.

English ǀ Français ǀ Español ǀ Русский ǀ العربية ǀ 中文 (pdf)

UNESCO in action




Facts and Figures

  • Our ocean covers over 71% of the globe. To date, only a little over 1% of the ocean is protected.

  • An estimated 50-80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface and the oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet. Less than 10% of that space has been explored by humans.

  • Tiny marine plants called phytoplankton release half of all oxygen in the atmosphere through photosynthesis.

  • The oceans account for 96% of all the water on the surface of the Earth, the remainder being freshwater, in the form of rivers, lakes and ice.

  • The ocean absorbs approximately 25% of the CO2 added to the atmosphere from human activities each year, greatly reducing the impact of this greenhouse gas on the climate.

  • Total carbon deposits in coastal systems such as such as mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows may be up to five times the carbon stored in tropical forests.