UN to adopt Sustainable Development Goals: What do they mean for ocean industries


The U.N. is adopting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this week in New York. These 17 aspirational goals and their supporting targets intend to guide global efforts on alleviating poverty and promoting sustainable development from 2015 to 2030.

The WOC and its efforts on ocean sustainable development are featured in “Scaling Up Sustainability Collaboration: Contributions of Business Associations and Sector Initiatives To Sustainable Development”, recently published by the U.N. Global Compact and International Chamber of Commerce.

One of the SDGs - the “Ocean SDG” – sets out the aim to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

Specific targets for the Ocean SDG address: reducing marine pollution, sustainably managing and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, restoring fish stocks by regulating harvesting, ending overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, conserving at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, prohibiting fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, increasing ocean economic benefits to small island developing states and least developed countries.

The WOC report also reviews the other SDGs applicable to the ocean business community, identifies key aspects of the applicable SDGs and notes which ocean industry sectors will be most affected by these goals.

With the Ocean SDG, as well as several SDGs that address marine related issues, it is important for the ocean business community to understand the opportunities and risks associated with this global policy that sets the sustainable development framework for the next 15 years.

The WOC report evaluates and outlines the opportunities and potential courses of action for ocean industries in relation the SDG 14 and all the SDGs in:

  • Ensuring access to sea-space and marine resources
  • Participating in multi-disciplinary dialogues
  • Ensuring a sound business environment
  • Supporting long-term business viability
  • Improving risk management
  • Addressing risks of engagement and non-engagement

Ultimately, ocean industry engagement in policy developments that may affect business activities is essential to successful ocean governance. As the SDGs have the potential to significantly influence the use of marine space and resources, it is in the interest of the ocean business community to develop and implement solutions for responsible ocean use.

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