Our Shared Ocean Is At Risk

Kenya’s half-year trade deficit fell by 20 percent in the first half of the year compared to the corresponding period in 2019. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Two thirds of our planet is covered by the ocean, a system that not only supports life on Earth and human wellbeing but also regulates the climate. The ocean provides oxygen, food, energy, water and raw materials.

It offers remarkable cultural services and is a source of jobs and economic activity across our planet.

Despite its importance, the future of our world’s ocean is at a critical point. Over-exploitation, pollution and climate
change are causing a serious loss of marine biodiversity.

Without a healthy ocean all the services it provides will be disrupted and the consequences will be dire. The 2030 Agenda dedicates Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.

As we enter the decade for achieving the 2030 Agenda, we need urgent action to mitigate the detrimental effects human activities are triggering, from those undertaken at sea or in coastal areas, to those occurring inland, hundreds of kilometres away from the coast.

A wide range of initiatives across the planet are working in this direction. This includes UNEP’s ecosystem-based
marine and coastal management and ocean governance work: the Sustainable Blue Economy Initiative, the Global
Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, and efforts of
the Regional Seas programmes.

In addition, scientific findings continue to strengthen our knowledge-base for ocean policy-making and management solutions, a focus of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), and the UN Decade for Action on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) which UNEP is proud to co-lead with numerous partners.

This International Resource Panel report, “Governing coastal resources: implications for a sustainable blue economy”, outlines key pathways through which landbased activities influence coastal resources, across land-sea boundaries and at multiple spatial scales.

This report also stresses the need for a holistic governance approach that accounts for the connections between
land-based activities and coastal resources.

The report provides practical options to strengthen existing landsea governance practices and presents new governance structures to reduce the impact of land-based activities on coastal resources and support the transition to a sustainable blue economy.

We have a significant opportunity and responsibility to mitigate human impacts. It is time to act and save our Blue Planet for humanity to thrive. I believe this important report of the International Resource Panel will make valuable contributions to an urgently needed shift towards more comprehensive and effective ocean stewardship, placing us on a sustainable ocean trajectory that we are all relying on.

Business as usual is no longer an option. COVID-19 has demonstrated that humanity can respond collectively to a shared global challenge – let’s build on this to create an unstoppable movement for sustainable oceans for All.

Forwarded by Ligia Noronha, Director, Economy Division, UN Environment Programme
International Resource Panel report, “Governing coastal resources: implications for a sustainable blue economy”