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Pacific News Minute: UN General Assembly president urges ocean conservation solutions

President of General Assembly Abdulla Shahid addresses a speech at the ocean conference in Palau.
United Nations
President of General Assembly Abdulla Shahid gives a speech at the ocean conference in Palau on April 14, 2022.

The president of the U.N. General Assembly is urging the international community to expand protected areas of the ocean and tackle plastic pollution.

Palau is an archipelago of more than 500 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific.

Last week, it hosted the 7th “Our Ocean” conference — featuring U.N. General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid.

The Pacific Island Times reports Shahid was encouraged that the conference was taking place on Palau, one of the island nations most at risk from rising sea levels.

Shahid cited four main areas of conservation of the ocean and seas.

He called for an expansion of protected areas, noting that even though the ocean covers about 70% of the planet, less than 8% of it is protected.

Shahid said there should be an investment in reliable ocean science data, which could be used to inform policies and programs.

He also noted that “a warming planet means a warming ocean,” causing increased levels of acidification and a loss of marine ecosystems.

The fourth point he emphasized was tackling plastic pollution.

It’s estimated that only about 20% of the plastic created since the 1950s has been incinerated or successfully recycled.

Citing a study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, Shahid said that “researchers found, for the first time, micro-plastics in the lungs of humans, highlighting the scale and severity of the problem.”

Derrick Malama is the local anchor of Morning Edition.
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