UN Ocean Conference : a state of emergency is declared

The first time the United Nations decided to dedicate a high-level conference to the Ocean was in New York in 2017. Five years later, the health of the oceans is of greater concern to the international community than ever before and is back in the spotlight, with the 2nd United Nations Ocean Conference (UNOC) that has just concluded in Lisbon. Nearly 7,000 participants, 24 heads of state and governments, and more than 2,000 representatives of civil society, including The SeaCleaners, took part. Eight days of events, a dense official program, a youth and innovation forum, and a plethora of side events helped to raise awareness about the oceans.

Say NO to easy

Just like COP26 in Glasgow, the event was resolutely oriented towards the search for solutions and the identification of concrete actions, around a common thread: “Strengthening ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: assessment, partnerships and solutions“. The Ocean is in a dire situation and the eight interactive dialogues (1) of the Conference, during which stakeholders meet to agree on the formulation of ‘concept papers’, set the tone.

Among the eight dialogues, The SeaCleaners’ scientific hub was particularly interested in theme n°1, the fight against marine pollution. In this context, physicist Dr. Richard Thompson put his finger on the difficulty that the scientific community is facing in understanding how plastic pollution pollutes the ocean. This subject is as thorny as it is fundamental to effectively fight against this scourge. He explained: “Marine plastic waste is often presented as a pernicious problem. Indeed, they are very heterogeneous in their form, their composition, their harmfulness, their source. So many methods are used to study it, and the most important thing is not the standardization of methods but to answer the fundamental questions we are facing in order to reduce its impacts on ecosystems and human health.”  The urgency is such and the problem so complex that a simple and standardized answer is impossible. It can only be multiple and localized.

The SeaCleaners meets French President, Emmanuel Macron

The SeaCleaners had the opportunity to speak with the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, about the commitments of France (the second largest maritime domain in the world) in the fight against plastic pollution. Positively surprising the NGOs present, the head of state declared in conference: “I think we need to develop a legal framework to stop deep-sea mining and not allow new activities that would endanger ecosystems”, before announcing that France would host the third United Nations conference on the ocean in 2025, alongside Costa Rica.

I don’t think it’s too late (to act) but it’s the ultimate moment,” he concluded, referring to the upcoming biodiversity summit in Montreal in December, COP215, during which the equivalent of the Paris Agreement for biodiversity is to be signed.

It is not too late to act in favor of the ocean… This feeling was widely shared in Lisbon by the participants of the Conference, but how to achieve it? We need a total change in our way of life, as the famous oceanographer Sylvia Earle said: “The real champions of the future will be those who know how to live in harmony with nature and use what we already have. Instead of cutting up the earth for raw materials, why not use the piles of garbage we have accumulated – they are gold mines.”

As a full-service aquatic cleanup company, The SeaCleaners is proud to contribute to this collective global effort by working on all fronts, from preserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems to educating and increasing scientific knowledge for ocean conservation and sustainability.

The main progress of the Lisbon Declaration

Marine Protected Areas & Pollution
Science & innovation
Climate Action



(1) The eight interactive dialogues held were: 1- Combating marine pollution; 2- Managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems; 3- Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, deoxygenation and warming; 4- Making fisheries sustainable and providing access to marine resources and markets for small-scale fishermen; 5- Promoting and strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies, particularly for small island developing states and least developed countries; 7- Strengthen the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources through the implementation of international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; 8- Build on the linkages between Sustainable Development Goal 14 and the other Goals for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.


Why do we need to collect plastic waste?