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FM Gerapetritis at the 9th Our Ocean Conference: United, we can make the difference for the future

FM Gerapetritis at the 9th Our Ocean Conference: United, we can make the difference for the future


Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis' full speech at the 9th Our Ocean Conference

Minister of Foreign Affairs George Gerapetritis emphasized the leading role of Greece in driving further direct and effective action on climate change during the 9th Our Ocean Conference. Speaking on the conference’s second day in Athens, he highlighted that climate change is at the forefront of our daily activities, and the threats it poses are existential for many countries.

Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis’ full speech at the 9th Our Ocean Conference:

I am delighted to welcome you here in Athens for the second day of our Ocean Conference. It’s a great pleasure, great honour to be here with you today. In our days, climate change is at the centre of our everyday work and threats emanating from it are existential for many, many countries. The global community acknowledges that serious and multiple risks and pressures to our oceans are imminent and that prompt and effective action is indeed needed. The 9th Our Ocean Conference in Greece takes the lead in providing the momentum for this action to be scaled up.

Dear friends, in the past, the job description of a Foreign Minister would mainly be the foreign affairs, diplomacy, geopolitical affairs, and how to treat the other countries, whether neighbouring, regional, or global. However, the big difference now is that new global challenges have emerged and urgent issues call for imminent attention, even by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Climate change is a cross-cutting theme, and it is now well within the job of a Foreign Minister. Its effects are present, and they have serious consequences not only for our planet and its inhabitants, but also for the established systems of public governance and international relations.

In this context, Greece, as a candidate country for a non-permanent seat for the Security Council for 2025-2026, has already declared climate crisis and security as a priority and an area of focus and we expect that during our term at the Security Council, we will have the opportunity, alongside with all of you, to raise issues of climate crisis and especially issues concerning the protection of oceans and waters. Dear colleagues, these days in Athens, we hosted more than 130 missions of state international organisations and NGOs. We hope that Greek hospitality, Greek Filoxenia -our love towards strangers- has met your expectations and that your stay has been productive and beneficial. The truth is that we accomplished great things together during these days. Secretary Kerry, in his opening remarks yesterday, referred to the intended Athens Consensus, and indeed, I think that we have reached that consensus. First of all, on a higher level, the major feature is the following: We should not overlook what is happening in our environment and especially in our oceans.

But there are also specific targets that we have achieved and we should be very proud of it. So, the Athens Consensus also embraced three, among others, emblematic results of our conference:

The first one is that more than 400 commitments exceeding 10 billion dollars in value were made. Secondly, the European Union, our neighbourhood, confirmed its strong engagement for international ocean governments by announcing 40 Commitments for Action for 2024, which will be funded by 3.5 billion euros from various EU funds. They represent the biggest amount ever announced by the European Union since the start of our conference. Thirdly, and most importantly, a new record was set. In the aftermath of our conference, the marine and otherwise protected areas have reached an amazing 47%, a score which makes us all proud.

Dear colleagues, allow me to thank you once again for your presence and your substantial contribution to the 9th Our Ocean Conference. I’m very happy to be here with all of you, and I cannot wait to hear your remarks and your interventions about how we can increase our engagement and our awareness in the great cause of the protection of the ocean to the benefit of the future generations.

And above all, I dare say, I come out of this conference with new friends from across the globe with whom we share the grave concern about the oceans, but also the hope that united, we can make the difference for the future.

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