The world celebrated World Oceans Day earlier this month, and whilst we may have missed the boat (!) on posting about it, we thought it was important to cover and relevant to what we do at Earth Active. “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods” is the theme for World Oceans Day 2021, and links in with the Sustainable Development Goal 14: “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”. One of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. Set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by the year 2030.
Our oceans are teeming with life; home to 228,450 known species and an estimated two million more undiscovered species. This incredible biodiversity maintains healthy oceans and provides us with 50% of our atmospheric oxygen, as well as protein for more than one billion people and materials for many of our modern technologies, including medicines. The ocean is also responsible for climate regulation, covering 70% of the Earth’s surface but absorbing 98% of heat from our Sun’s rays, and transporting heat between the equator and the poles via ocean currents. The Sun’s heat also causes large volumes of water to evaporate to form clouds in the atmosphere which in turn creates our weather. The ocean currents and weather systems together are responsible for healthy ecosystems on land and the reason that agriculture and our way of life on land is viable.
The ocean is critical to human survival and livelihoods, with 60% of the world’s population living on, or near, the coasts, with the remaining 40% still dependent on ocean resources indirectly. The fishing industry alone was responsible for US$242 billion in 2017 globally and is projected to increase to US$439 billion by 2026. Tourism is another huge sector; a few examples include coral reef tourism valued at US$36 billion annually, the surfing industry valued at US$2.7 billion in 2020, and the leisure boating industry valued at US$35 billion in 2020. It is also estimated that three billion people rely on the oceans for their livelihoods and that 350 million jobs are directly linked to the oceans worldwide.
However, the oceans are currently being pushed to their limits through overfishing, increased carbon dioxide absorption from accelerating anthropogenic emissions, and rising sea temperatures. If our current treatment of the oceans from both direct and indirect anthropogenic activities continues, the ocean ecosystem is predicted to collapse in the next 10 years, resulting in irreversible damage to life on Earth and likely runaway climate change. Therefore, it is critical that we act now and implement measures to protect life in our oceans and thereby protect our livelihoods on land.
At Earth Active we are committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We have helped deliver renewable energy developments around the world, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and thus its impact on the oceans. We have also worked with communities in West Africa, creating alternative livelihoods in sustainable fishing, and have carried out Environmental Impact Assessments and mitigation strategies into persistent organic pollutants which disrupt biological processes in marine life.
We aim to continue this important work to ensure that our oceans continue to be a hub of life and dependable livelihood source.