SDG #14: Life Below Water

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#14 Life Below Water

Humanity can thank the ocean for rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, the food we eat, and the oxygen we breathe. Additionally, “over 3 billion people depend on coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods,” and “the market value of marine/coastal resources is estimated at 3 trillion dollars (U.S) per year, or about 5 per cent of the global GDP”[1]. That is why this goal is so important—to conserve and sustainably use our oceans, seas, and marine resources. The goal includes targets for prevention and reduction of marine pollution from land based activities (debris, nutrient pollution). It also stresses the protection and conservation of at least 10 per cent of coastal marine areas as well as minimizing ocean acidification.

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Additional targets include:

  • Regulation of overharvesting and fishing as well as other destructive fishing practices
  • Taking immediate action on restoring fish stocks to levels that produce sustainable maximum yield in line with biological characteristics
  • Increasing economic benefits to those least developed nations who rely on the industry: promoting/investing in sustainable fishing, aquaculture, and tourism

Targets included in this goal:”


By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution


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


Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels


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


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


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 negotiation


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


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


Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets


Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, 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

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[1] United Nations, 2015. “Sustainable Development: Oceans”. 29 July, 2016.