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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

GLOWING GLOWING GONE - Message from Ambassador Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean

My hometown in the South Pacific is surrounded on three sides by a coral barrier reef. That reef is our true interface with the Ocean and the protection it provides, along with its wide navigable passage, is the very reason our town exists in the first place. I find it incredibly difficult to imagine a world without coral reefs, but that is essentially what the IPCC has forecast will be the case once we go through the dreaded line of 2˚ Celsius global warming. If that sounds extreme to you, I ask you to consider for a moment that current trends, as presented by the World Meteorological Organisation, have us on a trajectory that takes us to around 4˚ Celsius global warming before the end of the century. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, put it in his speech at the Blue COP in Madrid last December, we are knowingly destroying the life-support systems of this planet. And it is for that reason I find myself believing the future of humankind and of coral are intricately linked.

Thus my central message is that whatever angle you’re coming from in coral’s defence, our main enemy is our burgeoning levels of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and that it is everyone’s responsibility to do whatever we can to bring about the required transformations to our patterns of consumption, production and habitat destruction, in order to get us to a carbon neutral world by 2050.

Of course, there are many other measures we can take to mitigate on coral’s behalf, many measures applying the best of science and innovation to build resilience for coral reefs, both locally and at regional and global levels. But these measures will not occur at the scale required without financial support for those at the frontlines of research and implementation. That is why I was so glad to participate in the recent launch of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs and why I was so interested to read recently about the good results coming out of the Mars Coral Reef Restoration Program in the heart of the world’s Coral Triangle.

If we care about coral’s survival, we must all get involved in good works to make it so. Thus I urge you to join the Glowing Glowing Gone campaign and sign the petition calling for priority protection of coral reefs, for strong protection and management of 30% of the Ocean, and net zero carbon emissions before 2050 in order to restore the Ocean’s well-being.