Why are the Oceans so important?
Oceans, seas and coastal areas form a complex and integrated component of the Earth’s ecosystem and are critical to sustainable development. Our Oceans cover more than two-thirds of the earth’s surface and contain 97% of the planet’s water as well as produce around 70% of oxygen which is essential to sustain life on our Planet (United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, National Geographic Society). Oceans contribute to poverty eradication by creating sustainable livelihoods and work places, therefore being crucial for a global economy and trade. Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal resources for their livelihoods. In addition, oceans are vitally important for global food security and human health.They are also the primary regulator of the global climate and an important sink for greenhouse gases. Finally, oceans host huge reservoirs of biodiversity (United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform).
Sustainability as a House of cards
In order for oceans and seas to contribute to human well-being, ecosystem integrity, with properly functioning biochemical and physical processes, is required. (United Nations, Sustainable Knowledge Platform). Such elements as clean waters, biological health of the ocean, proper harvesting and fishing as well as assignation of marine protected areas are the major pillars which support three dimensions of sustainable development, namely, environmental, social and economic. All three dimensions are mutually affected by the processes occurring within the elements of ocean sustainability and if not managed properly will have a significant impact on global sustainability in general. Therefore Ocean Sustainability can be represented by a House of cards and is at danger of collapsing if one element is taken from it or seriously damaged.
Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which contained 17 Sustainable Development Goals among which, Sustainable Development Goal 14 “Life Below Water” addressed the significance of the “conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and seas and of their resources for sustainable development, including through their contributions to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security and creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent work…” (United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform). Issues related to oceans and seas are addressed in the 10 targets under SDG 14, as well as many other related SDGs,