UN Day 2018, Purpose of the Day Speech- Third International Year of the Reef
One may be wondering, “What is the use of being in the blistering sunlight for hours and listening to speeches about coral reefs? Are we not in Lesotho? Does Lesotho have coral reefs?” It is rather easy to simply be a citizen in the crowd, whereas as members of an international institution, educating ourselves about global issues is our inherent responsibility to undertake. While some people may deem certain matters to be irrelevant, a global citizen must readily advocate for reducing ignorance by raising awareness and sensitizing worldly concerns through education on a matter at hand. Hence Machabeng College officially commemorates the International Year of the Reef.
The International Coral Reef Initiative declared 2018 as the third International Year of the Reef which encourages not only to strengthen global awareness about the value of, and threats to, coral reefs and associated ecosystems, but also to promote partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia and civil society on the management of coral reefs. Furthermore, to identify and implement effective management strategies for conservation, increased resiliency and sustainable use of these ecosystems and promoting best practices thus also
sharing information on said practices in relation to the sustainability of coral reef management.
According to Business Insider, since 2016, coral bleaching events involving extreme levels of heat and acidity, have killed off approximately half of the Great Barrier Reef. Without coral reefs, there could be a rippling ecosystem collapse in the oceans, with devastating effects on the planet. Overfishing, pollution and the burning of fossil fuels all contribute to the damage of reefs. Who is behind all this? Us.
If you are still wondering why you should even bother, Michael Crosby, a marine scientist, would like to answer you with a question of his own- “You like to breathe? Did you know that 80% of the oxygen you are breathing in right now comes from the ocean? In order for you to continue to breathe, you have to have a healthy ocean.” Therefore, Machabeng College encourages all students to remain attentive throughout the day, as some of our very own will be exhibiting aspects in relation to sustainable coral reef management and exploring these issues in extensive detail. We urge you to be appreciative and caring of our environment- after all, this is the only Earth we have.
Batlokoa Sematlane UN day Key Note speech:
All protocol observed as set by the master of ceremony.
1997 was declared the first International Year of the Reef (IYOR), in response to the increasing threats on coral reefs and associated ecosystems, such as mangroves and sea grasses around the world. IYOR was a global effort to increase awareness and understanding on the values and threats to coral reefs, and to support related conservation, research and management efforts. Over 225 organizations in 50 countries and territories participated, and over 700 articles in papers and magazines were generated, and hundreds of scientific surveys were undertaken.
Within a few short decades, we are faced for the first time with losing an entire ecosystem on which we depend. Humanity’s pivotal challenge to save coral reefs will be a test of our will, ingenuity and ability to collaborate globally. If we succeed, we will not only save up to a million species that support up to a billion people, but we will have created the momentum and belief to save other ecosystems that are vital to the health of the planet, but that is absolutely no pressure.
Coral reefs support more species than any other marine environment and rival rainforests in their biodiversity. Countless numbers of creatures rely on coral reefs for their survival. Coral reefs face an increasing number of threats, including pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, and global climate change. However, there’s so much that can be done to protect and preserve coral reefs and all they do for us. The importance of coral reefs, however, extends far beyond the pleasure it brings to those who explore it. Coral reefs play an essential role in everything from water filtration and fish reproduction to shore line protection and erosion prevention.
Alongside reef fish is an equally diverse array of marine crustaceans, reptiles and mammals. Everything from lobsters and octopus to sea turtles and dolphins depend on the reef for food, habitat and protection. Each animal plays an important role in the reef ecosystem, be it filtering water, consuming prolific algae or keeping a particular species under control. By supporting such a wide range of plants and animals, reefs are able to maintain balanced relationships between predators and prey and organisms in competition for the same resources. It is these balanced relationships that keep our marine ecosystems diverse and abundant with life.
Coral reefs are also vital to life on land because of the absolutely astounding variety of life they support. While some of this life will never play a direct role in life on land, other types of marine life found in reefs are essential to human existence and livelihoods. Many different people around the world make their living by collecting food, such as fish, shrimp and mollusks, from reefs. Although unsafe practices of collection and fishing can severely harm reefs, responsible practices can benefit not only human life, but reef life as well, by maintaining a balance within the ecosystem.
And one of the most exciting ways in which coral reefs are vital to life on land lies in the potential for improved health and medicinal cures that are derived from a reef’s many different organisms. It is believed that the huge array of marine life within a reef may hold the key to different medications. Scientists and doctors are currently shifting their attention to studying reefs and the creatures within them, hoping that the seemingly incurable diseases that plague the human race can be reversed by looking for clues in the ocean, from which some believe all life on this planet originated.
Indeed, coral reefs are vastly important to all those who live on land. But equally important are we to corals, to ensure that they are protected and encouraged to flourish so that all may benefit from our incredible symbiotic relationship. Corals use the dissolved carbon dioxide in the ocean water to form new reefs. This gas conversion to limestone shell controls the carbon dioxide levels in the ocean. Without coral’s activity, that gas could saturate the ocean and air mass above it. All wildlife, including humans, would be negatively affected with a higher carbon dioxide level.
Without reefs, several thousand fish species wouldn’t have a home. Because of the coral’s protective design, exposed fish would slowly dieback, creating an imbalance in the ocean’s food web. Larger fish would soon decline in population because reef fish wouldn’t be available as a food source. The reef and food web are solidly connected.