Justice is a Universal Concept

WATCH Lewis Pugh’s address to the UN on World Ocean’s Day, 8 June 2021. WATCH Lewis Pugh’s address to the UN on World Ocean’s Day, 8 June 2021.

Justice is a universal concept.

I could be speaking to a banker on Wall Street, a farmer in India, or a child in Sydney. We all understand what justice is. And when we see injustice, it burns inside us.

Ladies and gentleman, I am an endurance swimmer and a maritime lawyer. I believe there are 3 reasons why we should protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans: and they are JUSTICE, JUSTICE and JUSTICE.

Let me explain:

The first type of justice is between ourselves and the animal kingdom … INTER-SPECIES JUSTICE. In my life time we have lost nearly 70% of the world’s wildlife. Think about that for a moment. 70%. My point is, we have no right to push any animal into extinction. A polar bear, a blue whale, an emperor penguin – they are all precious. And the natural world is interconnected. Every species has a role to play. You destroy one species and it will impact the others.

The second type of justice is between ourselves and future generations … INTER-GENERATIONAL JUSTICE. There is something incredibly wrong about us leaving a world to our children which is not sustainable. Why would you do this to your own children? Now is the time for us to become good ancestors. To leave a world which is healthier, more bio-diverse, and richer than the one we inherited.

The final form of justice is between nations … INTER-NATIONAL JUSTICE. Animals don't know national boundaries. This is especially the case for fish. Some are highly migratory. What use is it, for example, for a nation to protect the Great White Shark if it can be caught and killed on the other side of the world, in another nation’s waters?

One final point, but a very important one. When we damage the environment, we create conflict. People fight over dwindling resources. So when we protect the environment, what we are actually doing is, we are BUILDING PEACE.

Ladies and gentlemen, we stand at a defining moment in the history of humans. We are now in a race against time to save the natural world, and to save ourselves. This is the defining issue of our generation. I urge every nation to commit to protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans, for all the magnificent wildlife, for our children, and for a peaceful future.

Thank you all so much.

Lewis Pugh, OIG

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