Sustainable Ocean for All

Harnessing the Benefits of Sustainable Ocean Economies for Developing Countries

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Adopting more sustainable ways of managing the ocean is a global priority: protecting its health will bring benefits to all. Developing countries face specific challenges, as many depend heavily on ocean-based industries and are overly exposed to the consequences of ocean degradation. Enhancing their access to science, policy advice and financing would allow them to tap better into the opportunities of a more sustainable ocean economy, including more decent jobs, cleaner energy, improved food security and enhanced resilience, while contributing to the protection of the world’s ocean.

This report provides policy makers in developing countries, as well as their development co-operation partners with a wealth of fresh evidence on (i) the latest trends in selected ocean-based industries; (ii) policy instruments, including economic incentives, to promote ocean sustainability in various contexts; (iii) the first review of development finance and development co-operation practices in support of more sustainable ocean economies, including a discussion of how development co-operation can help re-orient private finance towards sustainability.


Executive summary

Achieving sustainable ocean economies has become a global priority. The ocean is at the centre of the livelihoods of more than 3 billion people worldwide, and it is a key life-support system for all life on this planet. However, pressures on the ocean and the ecosystem services it provides have mounted significantly — from overfishing, pollution, and climate change — and are expected to further grow as the ocean becomes the stage for a range of new ocean-related economic activities. These pressures are pushing the health of the ocean to its limits, leading to habitat degradation, ocean warming and acidification, more frequent extreme weather events, and species extinctions. They undermine the ocean’s ability to support long-term socio-economic benefits and sustainable development. Actions to revert these trends are therefore urgently needed: new and traditional ocean-based economic activities need to use ocean resources sustainably and conserve them. In recognition of this, for the first time the world agreed to focus on the ocean in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 14) and ocean action has since become a key priority in international fora, including in recent G7 and G20 agendas.


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