It’s been a long road for Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle research and development, and a long road is predicted ahead, but this week it did receive the praise of a global luminary.

The occasion was a Prius and Mirai ride and drive at the World Ocean Festival held at New York’s Governors Island in support of the Ocean Conference at UN Headquarters.

There, according to a statement, Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, “praised Toyota’s efforts and commitment to sustainable automotive transportation as an important step in taking care of the health of the oceans.”

Ocean health was the immediate concern, though atmospheric health is more-often thought of with Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell vehicle which went on sale in California in 2015.

Toyota says it has over 23 years of time and money spent on the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and the Mirai is its first car.

Last month in the U.S. it sold 162 units, through May’s end it’s seen 579 sales. Toyota has said it is looking for long-term results, is willing to be patient, and advocates the benefits over the drawbacks, as it aims for 30,000 global sales by 2020.

Meanwhile at the ride and drive, luminaries including “heads of state, ministers, marine experts, civil society and the business community” gathered to be shown the fundamentals of the FCV at the comfortable event.

Included in the festivities open also to local New Yorkers and those from abroad were a boat parade in New York Harbor, an art exhibit, and more.

All of this is in anticipation of World Ocean Day on June 8 where as part of Toyota’s partnership with The Global Brain, it is the automotive sponsor of the UN World Ocean Festival this past weekend and the UN Conference from June 5 through June 9.

Toyota has also been reluctant to make a more thoroughgoing commitment to more of that other “sustainable” technology, plug-in electrification as represented by battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Regarding the Mirai, it touts the over 300-mile range afforded by gaseous hydrogen in exotic carbon-fiver-wrapped tanks at 10,200 psi that can be filled in five minutes.

Its one current plug-in, the Prius Prime, is selling relatively well due to national distribution, with 8,073 sales through May. This indicates a stronger present market for plug-ins due to readily available infrastructure, and EVs and PHEVs can see mid-pack models sell more units in a month than the Mirai has sold all year.

Among criticism plug-in advocates lob at FCVs is the energy involved to reform natural gas into the hydrogen looks prohibitive to them, and, it’s been said, the tech detracts mindshare and funding away from plug-ins which need all the help they can get now as well.

Hydrogen also keeps consumers dependent on as yet scant refueling stations, unlike plug-ins, which may be charged at home, they say, even by home renewable energy such as solar, which stands to untether consumers from corporate interests.

Toyota points out California mandates one-third the hydrogen comes from renewable sources, and other efficiencies are projected to continue improving the carbon footprint and cost-benefit ratio for hydrogen.

As evidenced by the New York shindig, global interests are on board with a long-term vision of increasing the sustainability, and see FCVs as integrating into a future transportation scenario where there is room for both plug-ins and hydrogen.

No doubt this could lead to a long debate of further points and counterpoints, but the takeaway at the event in New York is Toyota says it is committed to sustainability. And, like Honda, it has said hydrogen fuel cell vehicles hold out greater potential to meet society’s needs this century than is commonly stated by detractors.