Read the full report from our online discussion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.
Learn from the perspectives from more than 220 participants who explored the critical role that protection and restoration of ocean biodiversity can play in achieving the UN’s ambitious 2030 goals, and how different stakeholders can help ensure healthy and productive oceans for both economic and environmental sustainable development.
What is Sustainable Development Goal 14?
SDG 14 aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
SDG Forum 14 discussion experts included:
- Civil Society
- Seafood Industry Professionals
The discussion started broad with participants highlighting the threats to the ocean of greatest concern to them. The amount of importance placed on climate change, overfishing and pollution differs if you are a professional or a consumer. Professionals are most concerned with climate change and overfishing, while consumers are most concerned about pollution. This was attributed to “Life Below Water” being detached from most people’s reality and recent media focus on plastics.
Progress on SDG 14 has been slow relative to other SDGs. Two-thirds of participants indicated that they could not fully explain SDG 14 to others; SDG 14 by nature is “out-of-sight”, “out-of-mind”. It is described as the “Tragedy of the Commons”.
- The amount of importance placed on issues differs if you are a professional or a consumer. Professionals are most concerned with climate change and overfishing, while consumers are most concerned about pollution and its effects. The challenges and issues plaguing our oceans and life underwater are so interrelated that an approach at the global, national, and local levels is necessary.
- Life below water is a concept far detached from reality. A greater degree of collective action is required to drive change. Transboundary policies and monitoring can prevent high levels of illegal fishing and encourage producer responsibility. Multi-stakeholder dialogues, international cooperation, and data sharing play an important role for understanding the complex nature of ocean science, and supporting sustainable decision-making. Effective communication calls for issues to be broken down into “bite-sized” pieces to empower actors and drive calls for action.
- The issue of sustainability and fisheries is one of political complexity and lack of contextualization. A common language needs to be established for different sized fisheries to ensure impact at an international scale. Solutions must be contextualized to better reflect the scale of a fishery’s operation: greater cooperation in the management of large-scale fisheries is needed and more investment to understand, inform and map small-scale fisheries is key.
- Impactful initiatives range from global agreements to local action, but clarity in communication is key. Initiatives creating awareness and a sense of urgency are highly relevant, and our discussion suggests there is a call for stronger engagement and commitment from governments and the private sector, given that international collaboration is key for long-term success.
- Collaboration is key for accelerating progress on SDG 14. Long-term success requires three forms of collaboration, each with a different composition of stakeholders:
- Transboundary collaboration to operationalize outcomes from global dialogues and move toward action, whilst tracking and reporting on outcomes;
- Consumer education to encourage sustainable choices and empower individuals and organizations; and
- Support for the Developing World from governments in developed countries, to act on illegal fishing and ineffective fisheries monitoring.
The key learnings from this forum shape the recommendations for the actions that should be taken to accelerate progress on SDG14. They cover four main areas: multi-country action, continued dialogue, data sharing, leadership and partnerships.
“The sheer scale of our oceans makes SDG 14 (Life Below Water) one of the most complex and challenging of the SDGs to tackle, and this is perhaps behind the observed lack of progress to date.
The MSC and other credible standard setters have a key role to play in helping companies and governments to achieve the SDGs. We can provide best practice guidance for “what good looks like” in a specific industry and create roadmaps for action and indicators of success.”
– Nicholas Guichouz, Chief Program Officer, Marine Stewardship Council
“We have set ourselves a challenging target to use 100% certified fish and seafood by 2025. And to get there we are working collaboratively, with partners and businesses across the value chain including supporting fisheries and farms to transform and adapt more sustainable practices to become externally certified.
The issues and actions spelled out in this report, brought to life by its participants, have our full attention.”
– Annelie Selander, Group Sustainability Director, Nomad Foods
SDG 14 Forum Report
Read the full report to find out more about the discussion, the key challenges identified and possible solutions for recommended action on the protection and restoration of ocean biodiversity.
About the GlobeScan SDG Leadership Series
The GlobeScan SDG Leadership Series is a set of seventeen online discussions and each Forum will focus on one Global Goal, connecting experts and opinion leaders to share ideas and actions for making progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Read reports on past SDG Leadership Forums:
- SDG Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
- SDG Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- SDG Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- SDG Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- SDG Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
- SDG Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
- SDG Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals
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