How business leadership can advance Goal 14 on Life Below Water
Healthy oceans are critical for life on earth through their regulation of global climate and water systems, and through sustaining the natural resources that provide 17 per cent of the global population’s animal protein intake. Many communities also rely on oceans for their livelihoods. The earth’s oceans are under ever increasing pressure from direct pollution and eutrophication, climate change, and fishing and aquaculture. Ocean plastic and debris are increasing rapidly; at this rate, it is estimated that there will be more plastic debris than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, presenting a huge risk to ocean and human life. Ocean acidification can lead to weakening of the shells and skeletons of many marine species. Overfishing negatively impacts food production, the functioning of ecosystems, and biodiversity.
Businesses play a key role as responsible stewards of oceans, seas, and marine resources. Oceans underpin the global economy. Over 90 per cent of the world’s trade is carried by sea, supporting more than USD $2.5 trillion of commercial activity every year. Maritime transport can impact ocean habitats by emitting exhaust, leaking chemicals and dumping waste into waters. Extractive activities including fishing, offshore drilling for oil and gas, and mineral mining can cause great damage to ocean environments if not managed sustainably. Land-based activities also generate by-products that are carried to oceans and disrupt marine ecosystems through pollution and eutrophication of habitats. All businesses have a responsibility to abide by environmental law and international treaties on the protection of marine ecosystems.