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UN Global Goal 14: Life Below Water

Solutions Journalism Network

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals aim to ensure the sustainable use of marine resources and our oceans, lakes, rivers, and other waters. In addition to providing coastal communities with their livelihood, the UN estimates that our oceans and waters contribute $28 trillion dollars per year in ecosystem services. These benefits include regulating global temperatures, weather patterns, and absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

In particular, Goal 14 seeks to address the challenges of over-fishing, illegal fishing, ocean acidification, and runoff pollution. The UN has set the following targets:

  • Address and minimize the consequences of ocean acidification
  • Restore ocean ecosystems, with special attention to strengthening their resilience
  • Protect and conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas
  • End overfishing, illegal fishing, and work to conserve at least percent of coastal and marine areas
  • Assist least developed and small island nations in their use of marine resources through financial assistance, knowledge and technology transfer, and protective legal frameworks 

In this collection, we learn about coastal communities  rethinking their relationship to the sea, hoping to make life below water more resilient, and their own livelihoods sustainable. Residents of the Island Garden City of Samal are embracing conservation and ecotourism as a way to ensure that giant clam populations persist. In Indonesia, regions of the Nibung River are closed for several months to allow populations of fish and crabs to recover. Reducing our use of plastic is another important step toward reducing marine pollution and debris. The island country of Vanuatu has introduced bans on many single-use plastics, a shift welcomed by the its residents.

We also learn about the importance of preserving freshwater ecosystems. During the twentieth century, the United States witnessed a flurry of dam building for hydroelectric power. As these dams have aged, their contributions to power grids have also diminished. Read about the Elwha River and Glines Cayon dam to see what environmental changes result from decommissioning  dams. 

Click here for more stories in the Solutions Story Tracker on life below water.

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