Movie star and ocean activist Jason Momoa was designated the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Advocate for Life Below Water today at a major conference mobilizing global support for an ocean besieged by the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and rampant pollution.
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 – will advance progress on science-based solutions to ensure better management and conservation of the ocean and its resources. The conference, which is aligned to SDG 14, life below water, stresses the critical need for scientific knowledge and marine technology to build ocean resilience, and is expected to culminate in a negotiated political declaration.
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.”
The native Hawaiian with Polynesian roots, who has long championed the rights of people of island nations, described how growing up on one of the world’s most beautiful archipelagos ingrained in him a reverence for the ocean and nature that has only deepened over the years “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, 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. The Nature Baton, a global collaboration for the ocean’s wellbeing, has shone a spotlight on the need for action to save the world’s ocean, and is a metaphor for the journey ocean champions have taken this year from Brest to Nairobi for the UN Environment Assembly, to Palau for the Our Oceans Conference, and for World Environment Day in Stockholm, on the road to Lisbon.