Today we are reminded of the critical role oceans play in our daily lives as well as the tremendous work needed to protect them.
World Oceans Day should encourage us to strengthen our resolve in achieving Goal 14 of the SDGs: to conserve and sustainably use our oceans.
The aims of Goal 14 are to reduce ocean acidity levels, protect marine life, reduce the threat of climate change for communities vulnerable to its effects, and establish more sustainable fishery practices. This is an issue not just about our ecosystems and our natural life, but also the people and communities that inhabit our planet and all future generations.
Awareness has never been more important, and the work never more pressing. As we mark the midpoint of the deadline of the SDG’s this year, we have much to be proud about, but we must be motivated by the significant amount of progress still needed.
There have recently been great strides in combatting overfishing and establishing more sustainable fishing practices. By the end of 2022, the Agreement on Port State Measures, which targeted illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, reached 100 States. The new WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, adopted last summer, marks a major step forward towards more sustainable practices. These are significant achievements in reaching global collaboration on preventing harmful fishing practices that harm ecosystems, and prioritising more environmentally friendly practices.
However, the ocean’s average pH is currently 8.1, which means sea water today is about 30% more acidic than in pre-industrial times, and this level is only increasing. Tens of millions of metric tons of plastic entered the world’s oceans last year, with the volume expected to double or triple by 2040, and the world lost almost 15 percent of all coral reefs in the previous decade.
I am proud to be chairman and a trustee at the Blue Marine Foundation, where we are currently working to advance the SDG’s as an action-based NGO. We help advance the narrative of the importance of healthy oceans in our daily lives. We do this not only through educational programs in schools, but also by connecting conservation experts with local communities through seminars and sustainable educational sessions.
We have also assisted in securing marine protected areas with the goal of protecting at least 30% of the ocean by 2030. We are proud that our campaigns have resulted in commitments to protect more than 4 million square kilometres of ocean with 21 project locations all over the world.
We have worked to tackle the unsustainable and unethical fishing models that hinder healthy ecosystems. In turn, we work to promote more sustainable models that not only benefit marine life, but also local fishers and communities. Our report illuminated the levels of unauthorised fishing by EU vessels in Indian Ocean Coastal States’ Waters.
Put simply, our goal is to see at least 30% of the world’s ocean under effective protection by 2030 and the other 70% managed in a responsible way.
It’s amazing to see Goals House convening activists, business leaders, NGOs and government leaders in action-based discussions around Goal 14 and sustaining our oceans. Over the last few years, we have brought together organisations across the world to discuss common goals and how collaboration can drive progress.
Following The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) announcement of an innovative financial deal enabling the Government of Barbados to redirect a portion of its sovereign debt service into marine conservation, I was fortunate enough to facilitate a conversation at Goals House with Jennifer Morris, CEO of TNC; Melissa Garvey, TNC’s Global Director of Ocean Protection; and Emma Crystal, Chief Sustainability Officer of Credit Suisse. Conversations explored innovative finance, the women who champion and implement this work, and how local governments are changing the game for brighter outcomes.
These are holistic issues that affect all communities, and collective action and attention is needed to save and sustain our oceans. As we approach London Climate Action Week, UNGA and COP28, Goals House looks forward to utilising these major global forums as spaces to continue action-based discussions and collaboration. On World Oceans Day, I feel proud to be a part of these dynamic communities that work towards sustaining the ocean for all.
Author: Arlo Brady, CEO of Freuds Group and Chairman and Trustee of the Blue Marine Foundation