Why is the Ocean Important?

The ocean gives us life. It feeds us, entertains us, connects us and inspires us, and powers our success.

Our well-being depends on a healthy ocean. It always has. It always will. The pressures on the ocean are intense and growing — but recovery is possible. Putting a healthy ocean at the heart of decision-making is essential so that effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity go hand-in-hand to benefit people, nature and the economy.

A healthy ocean holds the solutions to many of the world’s challenges.

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Produce
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The ocean protects us by stabilising the climate.

The ocean is incredibly effective at absorbing CO2 and heat, and has warmed unabated for the last 50 years—but as a result, it has absorbed more than 90% of excess heat caused by human activity globally and around 25% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Key Facts
Challenges & Threats

The ocean is in trouble. Its health is off-track and it is under intense and growing pressure. Plastic and other marine pollutants, acidification and rising ocean temperatures due to climate change are negatively impacting habitats and biodiversity.

Without action, the annual flow of plastic into the ocean will nearly triple by 2040, to 29 million metric tons per year.

Acidification and ocean warming are causing widespread death of coral reefs. Moreover, unabated climate change could cause coral reef tourism revenue losses of over 90%, while some West African countries are forecast to see fish stocks decline by 85%.

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The ocean sustains us.

It provides oxygen, food and medicine and is a source of recreation, discovery, identity and culture.

More than 3 billion people rely on food from the ocean as a source of protein and nutrition.

Key Facts
Challenges & Threats

Overfishing is negatively impacting important industries including fishing and tourism, the well-being of coastal communities, and the ability of small island developing states to sustainably grow.

Fishing has become the number one driver of extinction risk for marine vertebrates (excluding birds). If overfishing continues, annual yield is projected to fall by around 16 percent by 2050, threatening global food security.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is estimated to account for 20% of the world’s catch, rising to 50% in some areas.

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The ocean leads to greater prosperity.

It is an engine of livelihoods, transport, commerce, and energy production.

A healthy ocean contributes $1.5 trillion to the global economy annually and has an estimated net asset value of $24 trillion. It is also the source of millions of jobs in fishing, tourism, transportation, and powers economic growth.

Key Facts
Challenges & Threats

Current trends threaten the economic vitality of the ocean. A degraded ocean has vast repercussions not just for ocean life, but for communities, jobs and livelihoods across the planet—not to mention our very existence.

We cannot afford to continue with “business-as-usual”. New governance, policy and market approaches are required that allow profitability and sustainability to operate simultaneously.

Declining ocean health could cost the global economy more than $400 billion annually by 2050. This could reach $2 trillion annually by 2100.

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The ocean is a solution.

It’s time to shift from thinking of the ocean as a victim to seeing it as an essential part of solving global challenges. It was once thought there was a choice between ocean protection and production, but in reality, the two go together.

Utilising both is necessary for a healthy, prosperous future—and the research supports it.

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A sustainable ocean economy, where protection, production and prosperity go hand in hand, can create a healthy ocean that provides solutions to global challenges.

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For every $1 invested in healthy ocean action, there is a $5 return in benefits. The ocean is a smart investment that will deliver social, health, economic and environmental benefits

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The ocean can improve global food security. Through better management and technological innovation, the ocean could sustainably provide many times more food by 2050 than it does today.

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The ocean can contribute to reducing one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions (21%) needed to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals by 2050. That’s equivalent to taking over 2.5 billion cars off the road each year.

Defining the Terms
What is a Sustainable Ocean Economy?
What is a Sustainable Ocean Economy?
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What is a Sustainable Ocean Economy?
What is a Sustainable Ocean Economy?

The use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems and associated services.

What is Sustainable Ocean Management? Arrow
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What is Sustainable Ocean Management?
What is Sustainable Ocean Management?
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What is Sustainable Ocean Management?
What is Sustainable Ocean Management?

An approach to managing ecosystems and resources as a whole, promoting an equitable system of conservation and sustainable use.

What is a Sustainable Ocean Plan? Arrow
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What is a Sustainable Ocean Plan?
What is a Sustainable Ocean Plan?
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What is a Sustainable Ocean Plan?
What is a Sustainable Ocean Plan?

It is an important tool that will help nations to sustainably manage 100% of their ocean area in an integrative and inclusive way.

A Sustainable Ocean Plan aims to guide public and private sector decision-makers on how to sustainably manage a nation’s ocean area under national jurisdiction to advance long-term economic and social development—by protecting the natural marine ecosystems that underpin that development.

It lays the foundation for implementing the Ocean Panel’s Transformations, providing a unifying ‘umbrella’ for national ocean-related governance.

What is a Sustainable Ocean Economy? Arrow
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Hope

Hope is on the Horizon

Building a sustainable ocean economy is one of the most important tasks and greatest opportunities of our time.

Governments, industries, stakeholders and experts are joining forces to develop and implement ocean solutions around the world, but we need to go further, move faster, and ensure that our actions balance the needs of people, planet and prosperity.

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