Focus 16: Conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas 


The conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas ensures the provision of economic and social benefits and ecosystem services to humankind. Some areas that could be considered include:

  1. reducing marine pollution and debris including from land-based activities;

  2. halting destruction of marine habitat including ocean acidification;

  3. promoting sustainable exploitation of marine resources;

  4. regulating harvesting of straddling fish stocks;

  5. addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and destructive fishing practices;

  6. encouraging sustainable small-scale fisheries;

  7. eliminating harmful subsidies that promote fishing overcapacity;

  8. ensuring full implementation of regional and international regimes governing oceans and seas;

  9. establishing Marine Protected Areas;

  10. protecting marine resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction;

  11. sustainable management of tourism; and

  12. appropriate means of implementation*.


  • The role as life-support systems of oceans and seas, forests and biodiversity was frequently mentioned.

  • Healthy, productive and resilient oceans are important for poverty eradication, global food security, human health, climate regulation, and the creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent jobs.

  • Forests are key sources of wood and other forest products, water supplies, medicines, livelihoods, ecosystem stability, carbon storage and other vital services.

  • Many underscored that biodiversity contributes directly and indirectly to the well-being of both current and future generations. The need to recognize the living value of species beyond their commodity values was noted.

  • A range of threats to oceans and seas were mentioned, including: marine pollution including marine debris; climate change and its impacts such as sea-level rise; ocean acidification; unsustainable extraction of marine resources, such as overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and destructive fishing practices; and harmful subsidies that incentivize unsustainable activities.

  • Many expressed concern relating to the access to and exploitation of the resources of sea-bed and ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

  • Some raised the issue of conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction.

  • The need to recognize and respect the rights of indigenous peoples and other forest dwellers, and their vital role in sustainable forest management, was noted.

  • Various options for goals and targets were put forward. Some favoured clustering oceans, forests and biodiversity under an umbrella goal on healthy, productive and resilient ecosystems; others suggested that one or more of these areas merit stand-alone goals, in particular for oceans In addition, many referred to the cross-cutting nature of oceans, forests and biodiversity, suggesting that targets relating to these could be integrated under other relevant goal areas – such as poverty eradication, food security, health, water, disaster risk reduction and others.

  • Poor and vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected by the consequences of unsustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

  • Many mentioned the importance of capacity building, technology transfer and financing in relation to the sustainable use and management of natural resources. The importance of science-based policy making, partnerships and multi-stakeholder participation were also identified as enablers for implementation of sustainable management of natural resources.

  • Many referred to existing agreements and instruments on the oceans, forests and biodiversity, and suggested that SDGs should be aligned with and supportive of these agreements.

The above was taken from the United Nations Sustainability web site: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1300


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