Iran elected as World Ocean Assessment representative

June 20, 2021 - 16:32

TEHRAN – Iranian scientist, Mehdi Qodrati Shojaei, has been elected as the Asia-Pacific representative in the second World Ocean Assessment working group, IRNA reported on Sunday.

Qodrati Shojaei is a faculty member at Tarbiat Modarres University.

Launched on April 21, the Second World Ocean Assessment (WOA II) is the major output of the second cycle of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the States of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects.

WOA II is a collective effort of interdisciplinary writing teams made up of more than 300 experts from 14 countries, drawn from a pool of over 780 experts from around the world.

It provides scientific information on the state of the marine environment in a comprehensive and integrated manner to support decisions and actions for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, in particular goal 14, as well as the implementation of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The first World Ocean Assessment (WOA I), which was released at the end of 2015, established a baseline for measuring the state of the marine environment, including socioeconomic aspects. WOA II focuses on trends observed since the publication of WOA I and current gaps in knowledge and capacity.

Oceans are threatened

The ocean produces at least 50 percent of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of the earth’s biodiversity and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. Not to mention, the ocean is key to our economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.

Oceans cover over 70 percent of Earth and form 95 percent of its biosphere. Yet human activities, from overfishing to plastics pollution to oil and gas extraction to climate change, are degrading the world’s oceans and threatening food security for fish-dependent populations, warns the UN’s Second World Ocean Assessment (WOA II).

The number of “dead zones” – ocean areas where insufficient oxygen allows nothing to survive – are increasing; ocean water levels are rising, warming, and becoming increasingly acidic; and important mangroves and coral reefs are being degraded. About 90 percent of the world’s mangrove, seagrass, and marsh plant species are threatened with extinction.

The most important direct driver of biodiversity loss in terrestrial systems in the last several decades has been a land-use change, primarily the conversion of pristine native habitats into agricultural systems; while much of the oceans have been overfished. 

Globally, climate change has not been the most important driver of the loss of biodiversity to date, yet in the coming decades it is projected to become as, or more, important than the other drivers.

The loss of biodiversity is not only an environmental issue but a development, economic, global, ethical, and moral one. It is also a self-preservation issue. Biodiversity plays a critical role in providing food, fiber, water, energy, medicines, and other genetic materials; and is key to the regulation of our climate, water quality, pollution, pollination services, flood control, and storm surges. 

In addition, nature underpins all dimensions of human health and contributes to non-material levels – inspiration and learning, physical and psychological experiences, and shaping our identities – that are central in quality of life and cultural integrity.

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