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High-Level Debate on the Ocean header

The President of the General Assembly will convene a high-level thematic debate on the ocean and Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water on Tuesday, 1 June 2021, at United Nations Headquarters in New York. With the support of the Governments of Portugal and Kenya – co-hosts of the 2nd United Nations Ocean Conference, as well as H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Oceans, this gathering will serve as a drumbeat to generate momentum towards the Conference in Lisbon, when public health safety measures allow.

Coastal and marine ecosystems provide food, livelihoods, and coastal protection to more than a billion people worldwide. The value of the ocean related economic activities are already in excess of $1.5 trillion USD annually. The abundance of our ocean and its resources is an imperative to protect, not just for the enjoyment of future generations, but for the well-being, prosperity and resilience of the present generation. Ocean acidification driven by CO2 emissions and pollution threaten marine environments and ecosystem services. A 100-150% rise in ocean acidity is projected by 2100, affecting half of all marine life. In addition, it is expected that the metric weight of plastic in the ocean will exceed the metric weight of fish by 2050 if current pollution trends continue.

It has been more than three years since the first UN Ocean Conference. With the second Conference still delayed due to the ongoing pandemic, and four SDG14 targets having matured in 2020, Member States and the international community will benefit from a progress update on the achievement of SDG14, and the ocean related goals. As such, the President of the General Assembly will convene a high-level thematic debate at United Nations Headquarters on 1 June 2021, to support the positive momentum of implementation of SDG14.

The one-day high-level thematic debate will feature four multi-stakeholder panels. Each multi-stakeholder panel will seek to address progress on relevant targets of SDG14 and the 2030 Agenda more broadly. The panels will also provide an opportunity for UN Member States to engage in an interactive discussion with representatives from the relevant funds, programmes and agencies of the UN System that are delivering on the vision for a healthy ocean, for people and for planet.

The panels will be enhanced with five, one-minute long transition videos from a variety of stakeholders to share solutions, best practices, lessons learnt, and innovative developments from across all actors in the ocean space.


Non-Governmental Stakeholders are asked to register their participation by 25th May, 2021 at


Watch the High-level thematic debate on the ocean and Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water at