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At the same time, the ocean is becoming a security threat, with rising sea levels forcing millions of people to migrate, and warmer oceans leading to more devastating hurricanes. There is an urgent and inescapable need for international cooperation on maritime issues, which the Our Ocean Conference will address, and for concrete actions such as those announced today by the EU High Representative.
The international Our Ocean Conference, co-hosted by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, is currently taking place in Malta, on 5 and 6 October.
This morning, High Representative Mogherini on behalf of the European Union, announced an ambitious package of 36 EU-initiatives to foster healthier, cleaner, safer and more secure seas. In her opening speech, High Representative Mogherini said: "The sea is a global common. It is Our Ocean because it belongs to humanity, to each and every human being. We all have a responsibility to preserve what's common – to preserve it as a treasure and avoid that it turns into a threat."
Mogherini added: "The European Union believes that a globalised world needs a more cooperative global governance. We believe in the power of diplomacy, we invest in it, we believe and invest in the power of common rules and international institutions. And it is difficult, actually impossible, to imagine a global governance without a cooperative oceans' governance."
Amounting to over €550 million and launching complementary activities worldwide, the announcement underscores the EU's determination to improve the situation of the seas.
At the same time, as hosts, the EU seeks from the outset of the conference to set an example and send a strong message of encouragement to the rest of the world to step up and take action in the face of growing ocean challenges such as plastic pollution, protection of marine life, impact of climate change and criminal activities at sea. Over the comings days, the international community – governments and private sector alike - will come together to deliver on this objective.
Detailed information on the 36 EU commitments can be found here.
A live stream of the Our Ocean Conference and the press conference (at 12:00 CET) are available here.