Lisbon: Movie star and ocean activist Jason Momoa was designated the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) advocate for “Life Below Water” at UN Ocean conference in Lisbon on Monday, to mobilizing global support for an ocean besieged by the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and rampant pollution.
The Aquaman actor, who has worked with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and rePurpose Global, described how humbled he felt to be entrusted with the responsibility to promote ocean health:
“With this designation, I hope to continue my own journey to protect and conserve the ocean and all living things on our beautiful blue planet, for our generation and the generations to come.”
“For me, the ocean is an ancient teacher, a guide and a muse. It is also existential. Without a healthy ocean, life on our planet as we know it would not exist” Momoa said.
The UN Ocean Conference, co-hosted by Portugal and Kenya and attended by thousands of ocean advocates from business, civil society and government – including several Heads of State are advanceing progress on science-based solutions to ensure better management and conservation of the ocean and its resources.
Momoa, who is the star of Aquaman and the upcoming sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, made remarks ahead of the Youth and Innovation Forum, where he arrived on a boat to receive the Nature Baton from the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson.
Momoa then handed the baton to youth representatives before they, in turn, passed it to the UN Secretary-General.
“We are so pleased to have Jason Momoa joining the UN family as UNEP’s Advocate for Life Below Water. Jason has a strong track record of advocating for ocean issues, from reducing single-use plastic pollution to protecting coral reefs,” said UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen.
“In 2021, the 4 primary measures of climate change – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean temperatures and ocean acidification – all hit record highs. This means the time for action is now.”
“With a huge audience of engaged fans, we believe that Jason can move ocean considerations into the hearts and minds of citizens and business leaders to promote this urgency and action,” she added.
Early commitments from the conference include pledges from the United States and the European Commission to join UNEP’s Clean Seas Campaign, bolstering what is already the biggest campaign devoted to ending marine litter and plastic pollution in the world.
The landmark environmental conference, which is also aligned with the UN Decades of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and Ecosystem Restoration, played host to the ‘Giant Plastic Tap’, a three-story art installation constructed from 200 kilos of plastic waste supplied by local waste management company, Novo Verde and sponsored by Iberdrola.
The brainchild of activist Benjamin Von Wong, the installation was originally constructed in Nairobi for the fifth UN Environmental Assembly, and now sits in the heart of Lisbon’s multicultural district of Park of the Nations, where it isa visceral reminder to passersby of the scale of the plastic pollution problem and the urgency for humanity to ‘turn off the plastic tap’ from source to sea.