Safeguarding Seas: Sustainable Ocean Solutions

Credit: Kellie Churchman/Pexels

Goal 14 of sustainable development focuses on conserving and using oceans and marine resources in a sustainable manner. With oceans covering 70% of the planet, they play a vital role in supporting life on Earth by providing food, energy, and water. Additionally, they act as a natural absorber of carbon dioxide emissions, helping to mitigate climate change. However, human activities are posing threats to these crucial ecosystems and impacting the lives of billions of people. Therefore, it is imperative to protect and responsibly utilize oceans and seas for the benefit of both present and future generations, reports the UN.

Facts and figures 

  • Continuing ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures are threatening marine species and negatively affecting marine ecosystem services. Between 2009 and 2018, the world lost about 14% of coral reefs.
  • In 2021, more than 17 million metric tons of plastic entered the world’s oceans, making up 85% of marine litter. The volume of plastic pollution entering the ocean each year is expected to double or triple by 2040.
  • The global coverage of marine protected areas stood at 8% of global coastal waters and oceans in 2021.
  • More than a third (35.4%) of global fish stocks were overfished in 2019, up from 34.2% in 2017 and 10 per cent in 1974. However, the rate of decline has recently slowed.
  • Almost half a billion people depend at least partially on small-scale fisheries, which account for 90 per cent of employment in fisheries worldwide.

Goal 14 targets 

14.1 By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution

14.2 By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and taking action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans

14.3 Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels

14.4 By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics

14.5 By 2020, conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information

14.6 By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation

14.7 By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism

14.A Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular, small island developing States and least developed countries

14.B Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets

14.C Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want


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Source: UN


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