Portugal: Pandemic, war cannot be excuse to forget oceans – president

The president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, on Monday called for global cooperation and said that the Covid-19 pandemic and war could not be an excuse to forget the structural challenges.

The Portuguese head of state left this message at the opening of the 2nd of the United Nations Oceans Conference, co-organised by Portugal and Kenya, which runs until Friday at the Altice Arena in Lisbon.

At 10:00 am, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, declared the works opened and then the heads of state of Portugal and Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, were elected by acclamation to chair the Oceans Conference.

Invited by Kenyatta to make the opening statement, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said that this summit happened “in the right place, at the right time, with the right approach and with the right Secretary-General of the United Nations” to promote this meeting.

Speaking in English, the president called for global cooperation on common priorities and said that regimes, institutional powers, and politicians pass, while oceans remain.

They are millions and millions of years old, they are long before humanity, and they will continue for millions and millions of years, as long as we take care of them and stop killing them he added.

According to Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, this conference came at the right time, despite two years of forced postponement, pandemic, war, dramatic economic and social crisis and still coinciding with the G7 meeting and the NATO summit.

The urgency of the pandemic or the war could not be the excuse for forgetting the lasting structural challenges and their effects on our daily lives, he added.

De Sousa described Guterres as a man of principles, convictions, a promoter of peace, social justice and sustainable development and Portugal as a country that is what it is because of the oceans.