Journal Article

Securing blue wealth: The need for a special sustainable development goal for the ocean and coasts


  • Visbeck
  • M.
  • Kronfeld-Goharani
  • U.
  • Neumann
  • B.
  • Rickels
  • W.
  • Schmidt
  • J.
  • van Doorn
  • E.
  • Matz-Lück
  • N.
  • Quaas
  • M.
  • Ott
  • K.

The ocean regulates the global climate, provides humans with natural resources such as food, materials, important substances, and energy, and is essential for international trade and recreational and cultural activities. Together with human development and economic growth, free access to, and availability of, ocean resources and services have exerted strong pressure on marine systems, ranging from overfishing, increasing resource extraction, and alteration of coastal zones to various types of thoughtless pollution. Both economic theory and many case studies suggest that there is no “tragedy of the commons” but a “tragedy of open access”. With high likeliness, structures of open access are non-sustainable. International cooperation and effective governance are required to protect the marine environment and promote the sustainable use of marine resources in such a way that due account can be taken of the environmental values of current generations and the needs of future generations. For this purpose, developing and agreeing on one Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) specifically for the Ocean and Coasts could prove to be an essential element. The new SDGs will build upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and replace them by 2015. Ensuring environmental sustainability in a general sense is one of the eight MDGs but the ocean is not explicitly addressed. Furthermore, the creation of a comprehensive underlying set of ocean sustainability targets and effective indicators developed within a global Future Ocean Spatial Planning (FOSP) process would help in assessing the current status of marine systems, diagnosing ongoing trends, and providing information for inclusive, forward-looking, and sustainable ocean governance.

Experte IfW Kiel