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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lewis Pugh, Patron For Oceans

Lewis Pugh was selected as the United Nations Environment Programme’s Patron for Oceans as he prepares to embark on an epic circumnavigation of the globe.

Pugh, an ocean advocate, and a maritime lawyer from London, has seemingly done the impossible. In 2007 he swam across an open patch of sea at the North Pole to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice. In 2010 he swam across a newly formed glacial lake on Mt Everest to draw attention to the impact of climate change in the Himalayas.

Next year, he will attempt to continue his streak with a 3-year journey that will see him cross 3 oceans and 18 seas. Along the way, he will be promoting United Nations Environment Programme’s work and spearheading its campaign for the establishment of more Marine Protected Areas.

I’m very excited to engage with UNEP as Patron for their work on oceans. Their work is crucial,” said Pugh. “One of the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity is to see 10% of our oceans set aside as properly managed Marine Protected Areas by 2020. We must achieve this target. Over 10 per cent of terrestrial land is protected by National Parks. If we can do it on land, we can surely do the same in the sea. I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and helping UNEP in every way possible.”

I have been swimming for 27 years, and over that period I’ve seen our oceans change. I’ve seen enormous chunks of ice slide off Arctic glaciers. I’ve swum over bleached coral killed by rising sea temperatures, and over the bones of whales hunted to the edge of extinction. I’ve visited lakes high in the Himalayas where once there was only ice. I’ve seen drastic changes in my lifetime – changes that have come about because of our actions. In my lifetime I’d like to see us change, because we have it within our power to make a positive difference.”

Pugh becomes only UNEP’s second Patron for a specific cause. He joins Kenyan Patrick Makau, the marathon running world record hoolder, who is the United Nations' Patron for Clean Air. Pugh's long experience as an inspirational speaker will play a key role in bolstering support for a world in which oceans and seas are seen as vital natural resources that require far higher levels of sustainable management and conservation.

The accolades and attention that Pugh generates is unprecedented for an open water swimmer. Millions have viewed his talks at TEDGlobal on conserving the oceans. His speech on leadership at the BIF Conference in Rhode Island was voted one of the “7 Most Inspiring Videos on the Web.” In 2010, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader.

We are delighted to have Mr. Pugh join the UNEP family,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “His passionate advocacy for oceans dovetails with UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme to address and reverse the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas. Humanity is having an inordinate environmental and economic impact on oceans and seas. UNEP’s Green Economy report has identified transformational pathways that can reduce pollution, address overfishing and achieve a marine environment that can into the future continue to support lives and livelihoods in areas from tourism to fisheries and renewable energies. The messages Lewis will carry to audiences across the globe can inspire and catalyse action.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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