linking a healthy ocean with health

By Nkeiru Scotcher

This blog post provides an overview of the One Ocean Hub’s participation in the Science Summit at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 77). Hub researcher, Claire Lajaunie, organized two virtual sessions where Hub researchers participated. The sessions on “One Health and the Ocean” and “Protection of Biodiversity and Ecosystems were held respectively on 19 and 23 September 2022. Focusing on the ocean-climate nexus, the Hub has highlighted the link between a healthy ocean and outcomes that recognise the connection between the health of people, animals, plants and their shared environment.

Biodiversity Protection and One Health

Further to Claire Lajaunie and Pierre Mazzega’s contribution to a session on health and ocean at COP26 where the common interest between ocean action and One Health was highlighted, the call at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) urged states to act on biodiversity protection and recognise the importance of conservation in protecting human health.” The virtual sessions on tackled a broad range of issues from the national and global regulation of ocean biodiversity, coastal areas, to local community livelihoods and marine protected areas. A wide breath of speakers from NGOs, academia, decision-makers and international organisations participated at the session.

Hub Director, Elisa Morgera, was invited to deliver a presentation on science and sustainable ocean action. The presentation focused on the need to consider human rights  to science and its implications in marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. The presentation highlighted how deep-sea science, the law of the sea and human rights all point in the same direction, namely, the need for effective conservation and sustainable approaches to ocean management that contribute to human well-being.

Ocean and Health Intersectionality

Claire Lajaunie, together with Hub researcher Pierre Mazzega, co-presented a research review of One Health, the ocean and the SDGs. Highlighting the link between One Health and the ocean, the presentation expanded upon preliminary findings about disconnects between ocean health policies and One Health research in relation to the ocean.

Hub Researcher, Jeremy Hills, (University of the South Pacific), also delivered a presentation on ocean-reliant communities in the Pacific and the connection of ocean action to health. The presentation emphasised that ocean action should involve approaches that integrate multiple dimensions not just in scale but in output. The presentation also highlighted how art and culture contributes to sustainable ocean governance, and human health. The need for integrating multiple dimensions in ocean action is supported by Hub research on art for the advancement human rights and the ocean. This has also been highlighted at a Hub event for World Ocean Week 2022, and in the Hub submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights.

Ongoing Hub Research  

The Hub continues researching the link between the ocean, climate change and human rights (see our ongoing work on a special issue of International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law ) and have identified this link in its key messages at COP27. The Hub has also produced evidence on the usefulness of cultural resources as part of relevant knowledge outputs towards transformative ocean action with ongoing research linking cultural heritage and customary laws.

The ongoing research conducted by Claire Lajaunie and Pierre Mazzega on One Health and the ocean will be presented at the Fifth Asia-Pacific Day for the Ocean, a tripartite event of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), within the framework of a Joint Contribution to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development on 30 November 2022.