SDG #14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Healthy oceans are critical to life on Earth by regulating the global climate and water and by maintaining the natural resources that provide 17 % of the global population’s animal protein intake. Many communities also need oceans for their livelihood. The Earth’s oceans are under increasing pressure from direct pollution and eutrophication, climate change, fisheries and aquaculture. Ocean plastics and debris are increasing rapidly.
At this rate, it is estimated that there will be more plastic litter than fish in the world’s oceans before 2050, which poses a major risk to sea and human life.
Acidification can lead to deterioration of the shells and skeletons of many marine species. Overfishing has a negative impact on food production, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity.
The problem is that much of the litter comes from land. 80 % of the litter is plastic in various forms. Therefore, we must reduce the use of plastic, find alternatives to and stop the plastic reaching our coastlines.
Why should business support SDG14?
Businesses play a key role as responsible stewards of oceans, seas, and marine resources. Oceans underpin the global economy. Over 90 % of the world’s trade is carried by sea, supporting more than USD $2.5 trillion of commercial activity every year.
here is significant scope for business leadership on Goal 14. Yet today, Goal 14 is rarely identified as a priority for business action despite many businesses relying on maritime resources for inputs and transportation. Business leadership on Goal 14 requires first understanding the business link to oceans across end-to-end operations. Leading companies can then implement policies and practices to protect ocean ecosystems affected by their end-to-end operations. They can also contribute with their strong research, development, and deployment capabilities to provide new products, services, and business models which negate impacts on ocean ecosystems and contribute to their restoration. They can lead by galvanizing finance for the protection and further development of ocean ecosystems and water system flows, including through multi-stakeholder partnerships. Leading action can also involve the design and implementation of solutions to accurately value and respect natural capital, and enabling others to do the same.
Yet there is no international ban on littering in the seas, but at the UN Climate Conference (UNEA) in Nairobi on December 6th, the world’s environment ministers signed a resolution on zero tolerance of plastic in our waters. UN Oceans Chief Lisa Svensson described the current state of plastic materials and their presence in the marine environment has reached “planetary crisis” levels, and made it clear that governments, businesses and individuals must work together to bring an end to plastic pollution to prevent more damage. Earlier, the UN has had a goal to significantly reduce litter in the water by 2025. Now, the long-term goal is zero plastic and litter in the oceans.
So, what can You and your company do?
Below I give you some examples of business actions that You and your company can take:
Implement policies and practices to protect ocean ecosystems that are affected by business and supply chain activities.Example:A zero-waste grocery chain makes its stores completely free of packaging, requiring customers to bring their own recycled packaging materials to prevent plastic debris related to its operations from entering the oceans.
Research, develop, and deploy products, services, and business models which negate impacts on ocean ecosystems and contribute to their restorationExample:A shoe company designs a 3D printed shoe made entirely from recycled ocean debris and markets it to raise awareness around ocean pollution.
Galvanize finance for the protection and development of ocean ecosystems and water system flows.Example:A seafood company buys a stake in a community fishing co-op, to provide a consistent income for fishermen and prevent the overfishing of the target species and reduce by-catch.
The World Ocean Council (WOC) is a global, cross-sectoral ocean industry leadership alliance committed to “Corporate Ocean Responsibility”, developed by and for the private sector. The WOC engages and brings together leaders from the various ocean industries, including shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, renewable energy (wind, wave, tidal), ports, dredging, cables, as well as the maritime legal, financial and insurance communities, and others to collaborate on responsible use of the seas.