Achieving SDG 14: the role of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Author:De Serpa Soares, Miguel

Oceans, seas and coastal areas form an integrated and essential component of the Earth's ecosystem and are critical to sustainable development. They cover more than two thirds of the Earth's surface and contain 97 per cent of the planet's water. Oceans contribute to poverty eradication by providing opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and decent work. Over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal resources as a means of support. In addition, oceans play a crucial role in the achievement of global food security, as well as human health and well-being. They are the primary regulator of the global climate, function as an important sink for greenhouse gases, serve as the host for huge reservoirs of biodiversity and play a major role in producing the oxygen we breathe.

Oceans, seas and marine resources are increasingly threatened by human activities, including increased C[O.sub.2] emissions, climate change, marine pollution, unsustainable extraction of marine resources, and physical alterations and destruction of marine and coastal habitats. The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment, completed in 2015 under the United Nations Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-Economic Aspects, provides a stark picture of the state of our oceans. Anthropogenic pressures on marine ecosystems, including ocean acidification and climate change, are challenging the resilience of the oceans and their resources, as well as their continued ability to provide important ecosystems goods and services. The United Nations General Assembly has noted with concern the findings of the Assessment: the world's oceans are facing major simultaneous pressures, affecting them in such a way that the limits of their carrying capacity are being or have been reached, and that delays in implementing solutions to the identified problems threatening to degrade the world's oceans will incur, unnecessarily, greater environmental, social and economic costs. The international community increasingly recognizes that developing an ocean-based economy--a 'blue' economy for current and future generations--requires the conservation of oceans and seas and their resources, and that they be managed and used in a sustainable manner, inclusive of all sectors and grounded in cooperation and coordinated efforts.

These challenges are not new. Each year, they are at the core of the General Assembly's considerations on oceans and the law of the sea and sustainable fisheries. Moreover, time and effort spent on identifying and creating action...

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