Goal 14: Life below Water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

Goal 14: Life below Water 1The UN explains: “Our oceans — their temperature, circulation, chemistry, and ecosystems — play a fundamental role in making Earth habitable.

Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation. Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.”

The UN has defined 10 Targets and 10 Indicators for SDG 14. Targets specify the goals and Indicators represent the metrics by which the world aims to track whether these Targets are achieved.

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 14.1

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 take 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 per cent 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 negotiation2

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 the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 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”

But we invest little in maintaining them:

  • 40% of the oceans are suffering ill effects from human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats. Currently, 80-90% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities: everything from fertiliser and pesticide runoff from farms and lawns, to untreated sewage and improperly disposed of garbage.
  • Plastic makes up the majority of marine debris. Plastic is particularly problematic because it is not biodegradable but instead gradually breaks up into smaller pieces that are mistaken for food by birds, fish and other marine life, with potentially fatal consequences.

We rely heavily on our oceans: The market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion per year or about 5 per cent of global GDP. More than 3 billion people depend on the oceans for protein (it’s the world’s largest source).

  • Oceans are becoming more acidic. Carbon dioxide dissolves readily in seawater to become a marine pollutant of global proportions that could have significant consequences on marine organisms e.g. disruption of marine food webs and ecosystems, potentially damaging fishing, tourism and other human activities connected to the seas and having serious impacts on food security.

What can business do? Review how much plastic packaging your products need and look for opportunities to reduce, reuse or recycle.

Download PwC’s Report for Goal 14

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