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How can a healthy ocean improve human health and enhance wellbeing on a rapidly changing planet?

Ocean Panel Blue Paper exploring the topic of human health and its relationship with the ocean.

Full Report
Summary for ocean experts
Summary for health experts

However far we live from it, a healthy ocean is imperative to human health, from sourcing critical medication and nutritious diets, to providing new medicines and space for beneficial physical activity.

The ocean holds largely unrecognised and unrealised potential to improve human health, support mental health and wellbeing, create economic opportunity and advance social justice.

The Blue Paper, ‘How can a healthy ocean improve human health and enhance wellbeing on a rapidly changing planet?’ explores four key areas of opportunity where the ocean can be a source of positive human health outcomes:

  • Ocean biodiversity can provide new medicines to fight disease, inspiration for new technologies, new materials and energy sources.
  • Sustainable production of blue food holds promise for ending hunger and malnutrition.

  • Access to healthy marine environments supports recreation and promotes mental health.

  • Investment in the blue economy supports economic stability and equitable outcomes in coastal communities and beyond.


To identify key areas of action, this paper systematically catalogues ocean-based opportunities for enhancing human health and wellbeing and provides policymakers with achievable actions for improving human health and wellbeing by equitably and sustainably realising the ocean’s great benefits.

The Paper finds that urgent and comprehensive action is needed to safeguard ocean and human health, including actions that:

  • Protect, restore and sustainably manage ocean biodiversity;
  • Combat climate change and eliminate pollution;
  • Include indicators of ocean and human health and wellbeing (including equity) into relevant policies and decision-making.

These actions for better ocean and human health can be achieved by meeting the commitments of global agreements, building global partnerships and focusing on equity and the right to a healthy environment.


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