Hollywood actor Jason Momoa is taking his role as Aquaman, protector of the deep oceans, off the screen. Attending a UN conference in Portugal, Momoa was appointed the new UN Environment Program advocate for Life Below Water – an honorary position to acknowledge his work to help protect marine life.
Attended by governments, civil society and businesses, the UN Ocean Conference seeks to make progress on solutions to ensure better management and conservation of the ocean and its resources. The conference stresses the need for scientific knowledge to build ocean resilience and will finish with a negotiated political declaration.
The Aquaman actor, a Hawaii native, with Polynesian roots said he was humbled by his designation and expressed hope to protect and conserve the ocean “for our generation and the generations to come.” This isn’t just about his work on Aquaman — Momoa has already worked on other conservation efforts in the past, such as Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and rePurpose Global, a movement to eliminate plastics.
“The ocean needs us. Without a healthy ocean life, our planet as we know it would not exist,” Momoa said. “We must seek to right the wrongs we have done against our children and grandchildren, turn the tide on our irresponsible stewardship and build a moment for a future where humanity can once again live in harmony with nature.”
Working to protect the oceans
Momoa highlighted how growing up in one of the world’s most beautiful archipelagos made him appreciate the ocean and nature. He described the ocean as “an ancient teacher, a guide and a muse” and said that while acting is his career ocean protection has been his passion since he was young.
While most of us know him for his role in Aquaman, Momoa actually has an extensive background in protecting the oceans off-screen. He studied marine biology in Iowa and then transferred to Colorado State University and continued in wildlife biology. He’s an avid lover of the outdoors, frequently posting photos of himself and his family in nature.
Youth activists from various countries cheered as Momoa arrived at a beach in Lisbon with a boat, where he received a “nature baton” that represented his new designation. He was received by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Special Envoy for the Ocean Peter Thomson, who spoke with Mamoa and the activists on the beach.
“Jason has a strong track record of advocating for ocean issues, from reducing single-use plastic pollution to protecting coral reefs,” UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen, said. “With an audience of engaged fans, we believe that Jason can move ocean considerations into the hearts and minds of citizens and business leaders.”
The ocean covers 70% of the surface of the planet, generates about half of the world’s oxygen and absorbs 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions. However, climate change is increasing its temperature and causing sea levels to rise. This adds up with the growing problem of plastic waste, with eleven million metric tons of plastic ending up in the ocean every year.