The Ocean and Us

Vera Scholz, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Oceans and seas are the largest connected ecosystem on our planet. Marine waters cover about 71 per cent of the planet’s surface and provide essential ecosystem servic- es. They play an important role in food production, climate stability, oxygen generation, coastal protection, transpor- tation of goods and energy generation, among many oth- ers. Fish and other marine life, for instance, are the main sources of protein for one sixth of the world’s population. In addition, coastal areas are densely populated, with half of the world’s people living within 200 kilometers of the coast. Thus, oceans are a key system supporting life on earth and therefore highly integrated in the sustainable development trajectories. Despite their global significance, marine and coastal ecosys- tems face a wide array of threats, mainly due to human activi- ties. Habitat loss and degradation, overfishing and destructive fishing methods, eutrophication and pollution deteriorate the state of oceans and coasts. Furthermore, the impacts of cli- mate change are heavily affecting the sensitive ecosystems.

Against this background, the key question is how to create an economically viable, environmentally sound and socially re- sponsible vision for the use of ocean biodiversity and marine natural resources? The SDGs are the strategic, global and integrated pathway to address this question. Hence, the challenge is to guarantee a sustainable development that is based on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for the benefit of all of us, today and tomorrow. In response to this, the German government and its imple- menting agencies strive to ensure that sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity are key elements of the global post-2015 development agenda. Annually, half a billion Euros are made available to conserve biodiversity, reduce the drivers of biodiversity loss and promote sustainable use worldwide. Oceans and the ecosystem services they provide are contin- uously becoming more important in this regard, and are a crucial and integrated element of the SDGs. We need a healthy blue planet for a sustainable world.

Garth Cripps, Blue Ventures, 2015

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