The ocean is in a severe and accelerating crisis, threatening the environment and human well-being. Inadequate governance has allowed increasing overfishing and pollution to bring about a devastating state of affairs.
Through the efforts of the scientific community, environmental activists, NGO’s, and the media, awareness of the fragile state of the ocean is becoming better known, and hundreds of local efforts to improve the marine environment are underway in dozens of countries.
But this is a global problem and it will require a global solution to bring the ocean back from the brink of irreversible decline. International collective action starting at the United Nations (UN) is the most effective way to create such a solution. For the first time, a worldwide effort to stabilize the ocean is under serious consideration at the UN as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), an internationally negotiated list of priorities and objectives to mobilize resources and bring about collective action.
The SDG’s are currently in draft form and address a variety of global issues, including a stand-alone goal regarding the ocean (Ocean SDG). A final version of the SDG’s will be approved at the end of 2015 for implementation at the beginning of 2016. There is concern that negotiations over the next year could result in the weakening of the existing draft Ocean SDG, dilution of it because it is subsumed under another SDG, or the exclusion of it entirely. This would be a tremendous setback and lost opportunity for ocean conservation.
Thus, OSA’s short-term objective is to see a strong and enforceable Ocean SDG approved over the next year. This initial effort will be followed by a scientifically rigorous multi-year program to effectively implement it. If this opportunity is missed, the next occasion to debate these issues at the global level will be 2030, when the damage done may be irreversible.
OSA is uniquely positioned to achieve its mission because its leadership includes state actors who can make commitments on behalf of the nations they represent. The window of time to secure a healthy ocean for future generations is short and quickly closing, and support is needed now.