Remarks by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the World Economic Forum’s Virtual Ocean Dialogues
June 3, 2020
Bonjour, tout le monde.
Hello, everyone, and thank you for the invitation to participate in this discussion. It’s great to talk about something that is incredibly important to Canadians: our oceans.
We depend on nature. Over the last several months, many haven’t been able to connect with nature or with our oceans. It’s been difficult to not be together, and to not be outside. Connecting with nature is a critical part of our lives. It’s critical to our mental and physical health. And it is critical to our livelihoods. Thousands of people in Canada continue to work on the water, despite the challenges of recent months. They support their families and build a good life for themselves.
In so many ways, healthy oceans are an essential service. Even the test to diagnose COVID-19 comes from our oceans – it was developed with enzymes of microbes from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. We all benefit in some way from our oceans.
But we might ask ourselves, whose responsibility is it to protect our oceans? The high seas cover two thirds of the ocean and more than half the surface of the globe. They belong to no one, but they serve everyone. We all have a role to play in protecting the waters that we share. Canada will always do its part – within the country and all over the world. We mobilized world leaders as part of the G7 to develop the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities. In cooperation with Kenya, we worked on helping to strengthen the ocean economies of developing countries through the Blue Economy Conference. And this year, we have to reach agreement on a new international treaty to protect marine biodiversity in the high seas. Such initiatives are now more important than ever.
A few months ago, I might have said that protecting the high seas will take global collaboration the world has not seen in modern times. Well, today, we are in the middle of a global pandemic. And we now know what true global collaboration looks like. The pandemic is bringing the world together in a new way. It is showing, in real time, just how much we depend on one another.
This pandemic has also highlighted the social, economic and environmental challenges that reach beyond our borders. At this time when we’re thinking about recovery measures, we should all be trying to build a more just and sustainable world. Investing in our oceans as a solution to foster resilience and economic recovery is just a beginning. We also have to work in partnership with Indigenous leaders. We must ensure that the women on whom we’ve depended all throughout this pandemic are the first to get back on their feet when the recovery is happening. And we must understand and respect the natural world that is at the heart of everything we do. All of these elements are interconnected.
The decisions we make now will chart the course of our world over the next few decades. That’s why this moment is so important. You cannot have a plan for the economy if you do not have a plan for the environment. This is truer now more than ever before. These challenges demand that we all step up; that we work together, united as one for the benefit of all. Canada is committed to working with you to do just that.