Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

Why It Matters

The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind.

Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation.

Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.

Facts & Figures

  • Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume
  • Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods
  • Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion per year or about 5 per cent of global GDP
  • Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions
  • Oceans absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming
  • Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein
  • Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people
  • Subsidies for fishing are contributing to the rapid depletion of many fish species and are preventing efforts to save and restore global fisheries and related jobs, causing ocean fisheries to generate US$ 50 billion less per year than they could
  • As much as 40 per cent of the world oceans are heavily affected by human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats


• Reduce marine pollution, since much of the pollution comes from human activities on land.

• Enact laws that prohibit illegal fishing, overfishing, and other destructive fishing practices.

• Provide financial support to the poorest countries and small islands to protect and have better management of marine resources, thinking about the future.

Take Action

  • Curb your waste and make an effort to reduce the waste you produce, and reuse and recycle whenever you can. Much of the waste that we produce on land ends up in the oceans.
  • Don't use plastic straws, this way you can ensure they don't make their way to any sea creatures. If you are a business, provide reusable containers and stop the use of plastic straws.
  • Bring your own bag when you shop. Pass on the plastic bag and start carrying your own reusable bags.
  • If you live in a coastal area, volunteer for beach clean-ups and spread awareness about the cost of marine litter.
  • If you have the chance to visit a beach, appreciate its beauty and ensure you don't disturb its harmony and its wildlife.
  • Make ocean-friendly choices when buying products or eating food derived from oceans and consume only what we need.
  • Making small changes in our daily lives, like taking public transport and unplugging electronics saves energy. These actions reduce our carbon footprint, a factor that contributes to rising sea levels.
  • Most importantly, we can spread the message about how important marine life is and why we need to protect it.

Life Below Water: Why It Matters

Create a change project focused on this Global Goal via Roots & Shoots