Photo by Marek Okon
Sustainable ocean economies can potentially speed up answers to the world’s most pressing problems, including hunger and extreme poverty elimination, employment creation, and climate change mitigation.
We must release the ocean’s economic potential to combat climate change, provide food security, and preserve biodiversity.
Let’s explore various ways to achieve a sustainable ocean economy.
What Is a Sustainable Ocean Economy?
The health of marine ecosystems is in jeopardy. The water is becoming warmer, more acidic, and oxygen-deprived due to climate change, which is also rising sea levels.
Since the 1980s, the ocean has taken up around 33 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities and about 90 percent of the excessive heat due to greenhouse emissions. For far too long, the ocean has been forgotten, ignored, and unlucky. The climate mitigation community, government, financing agencies, financial companies, and food-security groups have all paid little attention.
A sustainable ocean economy, in which humanity protects marine and coastal ecosystems, utilizes ocean resources responsibly, and assures equitable distribution of benefits, is essential for over three billion people whose livelihoods rely on ocean biodiversity. Safeguarding its health should be a top concern for all nations, making the adoption of more environmentally friendly practices regarding the ocean a matter of paramount importance.
Ways To Achieve a Sustainable Ocean Economy
The following ways would help mitigate global problems, provide new income and employment opportunities, and strengthen economies while safeguarding people and the earth.
Reduce Ocean Pollution
Plastics, chemicals, fertilizers, and sewage are contaminants that have found a home in the ocean. Despite growing international concern and efforts to curb the problem, ocean pollution has continued to rise.
If we want to eliminate plastics that cause problems and aren’t required, we must encourage creating, manufacturing, and using viable and sustainable alternatives when appropriate.
It is important to make sure that trash isn’t being shipped illegally or that plastic trash isn’t being exported. Through stricter laws, technological advancement, training programs, and capacity building, we can stop the flow of plastic trash and microplastics from ships, offshore facilities, and land-based suppliers, including ports and bridges.
Mitigate Climate Change
Stronger storms, floods, and storm surges are caused by climate change, which has devastating effects on many parts of the globe. Warmer oceans are destroying coral reefs and eroding the bases of Antarctica’s glaciers.
Renewable energy sources that may be harnessed from the ocean include:
Ships must be decarbonized. Shipping products over the ocean accounts for more than 90 percent of all global trade.
However, ships use heavy fuel oils, which contribute to the production of soot and sulfur in addition to carbon dioxide, accounting for 18 percent of certain air pollutants and three percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Promote Sustainable Ocean-based Tourism
Tourism that restores the ecosystems on which it relies, strengthens coastal areas and Indigenous peoples, combats climate change and pollution, and promotes equal opportunity and fair sharing of its economic advantages is considered sustainable.
One way to facilitate this is to build local and indigenous communities’ skills for tourist job growth to in turn diversify economic options, and enhance resources for marine and coastal restoration and conservation.
Further investments in sewage and wastewater infrastructure should also be made to support coastal and marine tourism to better the health of coastal populations and lessen the negative effects on coastal and marine ecosystems.
Invest in Sustainable Ocean Transport
With over 90 percent of global commodities still being transported by ship, this environmentally friendly mode of transportation is crucial to global commerce and communication. Rapid decarbonization is essential to the industry’s long-term viability. Therefore, we must immediately begin investing in technologies to facilitate this change. These expenditures will strengthen global supply systems and island and coastal communities’ ability to withstand future crises and generate employment. It will also encourage the creation of clean energy and zero-carbon fuel supply chains at ports to hasten the shift toward carbon-neutral maritime transportation and shipping fleets.
Investment will additionally support technical assistance for international capacity development and work to hasten the transition of the world’s fleet to contemporary forms of propulsion and renewable fuels, notably via tightened restrictions inside the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Minimize Seabed Mining
Minerals found on the ocean bottom are potentially helpful in the movement toward a low-carbon emission civilization. These habitats are some of the least studied and accessible in the ocean.
Due to the fragility of these ecosystems, our lack of scientific knowledge, and our scarce knowledge of the possible impacts of emerging ocean activities, we must take a precautionary approach, conduct research and investigation, and create a circular economy to lower demand and minimize these risks.
Another way to facilitate this is to develop cooperative efforts to accelerate the creation and rollout of technologies to lower the demand for metals and rare earth minerals and “urban mining” (the recovery and recycling of metals from used goods, structures, and garbage) and “resource-light” manufacturing.
Implementing a preventative measure and ecosystem-based approach, utilizing science-based and credible management, and guaranteeing effective compliance with a comprehensive inspection mechanism are key areas.
These priorities will help guarantee that regulations for seabed mineral mining, currently being developed by the International Seabed Authority, effectively protect marine environments.
Protect and Restore Marine and Coastal Ecosystems
Coastal and marine ecosystems protect coastlines and towns from climatic effects and absorb and store large quantities of CO2. They provide a wide variety of ecosystem services, including food, economic opportunities, therapeutic benefits, recreational possibilities, and habitat.
Protecting coastal populations and marine environments requires a climate-smart, nature-based strategy incorporating well-managed marine reserves, successful area-based conservation measures, and sustainable infrastructure development.
Planning and building coastal infrastructure that uses nature-based solutions to minimize gray infrastructure and increase carbon sequestration and storage will also boost coastal resilience. While conserving marine life will additionally improve our environment, food supply, economy, and culture by creating and managing conservation areas and other initiatives.
To ensure the long-term health of the ocean and its coastlines, it is important to work with the local population, Indigenous Peoples, and other stakeholders via the appropriate global and regional organizations.
We Must Act Now
It is our shared obligation and privilege to ensure the long-term viability of our oceans and the economies that depend on them. By taking on this challenge and grabbing this chance, we can give the circular economy a much-needed boost right now while also preparing for and coping with future crises.
Sea Going Green is a sustainable tourism consultancy working with a range of stakeholders in the public and private sector to deliver impactful projects that support marine conservation and eco-friendly practices.
Sustainable ocean economies can potentially speed up answers to the world’s
most pressing problems, including hunger and extreme poverty elimination,
employment creation, and climate change mitigation.
Let’s explore various ways to achieve a sustainable ocean economy.Read MoreSustainable Living, EducationBlog – Sea Going Green