Safeguarding the Blue Planet – Eight Recommendations to Sustainably Use and Govern the Ocean and Its Resources
Over 30% of the world’s population lives within 100 km of the oceanic coast. More than three billion people rely on fishing and other ocean-related livelihoods. The ocean is a biodiversity hotspot and moderates the climate, having absorbed around 40% of the world’s total carbon emissions. Oceanscapes provide an essential cultural good, offer recreational opportunities, health benefits, artistic inspiration and an entire cosmology and way of life for indigenous communities. However, anthropogenic pressures have seriously impacted the ocean and threaten its ability to provide human societies with the required climatic and ecosystem conditions for life on earth. The German G7 presidency has proposed a G7 “Ocean Deal” for the sustainable use, protection and effective governance of the ocean and its resources. Several ongoing global ocean governance processes require strong multilateral leadership and close alignment between the G7, in particular in this period of serious international tensions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the One Ocean Summit in February 2022, global leaders have put forth first commitments to make 2022 a decision year for the ocean. Building on the final declaration of the summit and the UK G7 Ocean Decade Navigation Plan, we highlight that a G7 “Ocean Deal” should include provisions for 1) ambitious ocean governance to safeguard ocean health and climate (in the G7’s own waters and through leadership in international settings), 2) improving ocean observation, data infrastructure and knowledge sharing, and 3) financing the transition towards more sustainable interactions with the ocean. Specifically, we recommend that G7 states:
1a. Eliminate national subsidies that contribute to overfishing and push to finalize the related WTO agreement; step up international cooperation, financial & technical assistance to prevent IUU fishing.
1b. Reduce marine debris through a comprehensive global agreement on plastic pollution.
1c. Pause deep sea mining until risks are better understood and a transparent, inclusive and accountable institutional structure is in place that guarantees the effective protection of the marine environment.
1d. Expand marine protected areas in line with the proposed goal of at least 30% by 2030, and accelerate work in the coming months to successfully finalize negotiations for a legally binding instrument to conserve and sustainably use marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).
1e. Fully recognize the importance of the ocean-climate nexus and strengthen the ocean dimension in key climate negotiations.
2a. Adopt a legal framework and binding commitments for a sustained and shared global coordination of ocean observations and infrastructure on marine data, compliant with FAIR and CARE principles.
2b. Ensure long-term, guaranteed funding, clear institutional affiliations, coordinated and integrated data products to enable continuous, comprehensive observations supporting policy monitoring & evaluation
3a. Redesign and scale up ocean finance by increasing funding of early-stage, nature-positive and science-based opportunities, and large-scale investment into zero-carbon, resilient and nature-based coastal blue infrastructure, and by integrating ocean criteria into sustainability finance frameworks (EU Taxonomy, Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD)).