The Goals of the UN Ocean Decade
Each year, we see millions of tonnes of plastic entering our oceans. This plastic wreaks havoc on our oceans by polluting them. As we know, plastic presents a significant threat to those living in the oceans and never truly biodegrades. It remains on the planet for hundreds of years and has become a daily challenge for marine life.
Plastic pollution also poses significant threats for humans, as marine animals often consume it in the ocean. It’s likely that when we eat seafood, we are also consuming plastic. These plastic toxins can be linked to development problems and hormonal abnormalities too. In addition, there is still a lot that is unknown about plastic pollution, so there are likely even more challenges here for humans.
What is the UN Ocean Decade?
It is in our best interest to clean up our oceans, but that in itself can be such a huge challenge with plastic being virtually inescapable. This is precisely why the UN Ocean Decade came about. The United Nations proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development from 2021 to 2030. The purpose is to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders behind the framework globally to fully support countries in enhancing conditions for sustainable development of the ocean.
The marine realm is the most significant component of the Earth’s system, and it supports life on Earth and human wellbeing while also stabilizing the climate. However, in 2016, the First World Ocean Assessment discovered that a vast majority of the ocean is alarmingly degraded now. Marine systems have suffered many losses and changes in function, benefits, and structure. The impact of this is thought to increase as the human population does. As a result, scientific understanding is critical to managing and protecting our oceans.
What are the Goals of the UN Ocean Decade?
The UN Ocean Decade goal is to achieve a clean ocean where the pollution sources are identified and then reduced or, more ideally, removed. In addition, they also want to accomplish a resilient and healthy ocean whereby marine ecosystems are comprehended, managed, protected, and ideally, restored. Another of its aims is to enhance the productivity of the oceans to support sustainable food supply and a sustainable ocean economy.
The UN Ocean Decade also hopes to gain a predicted ocean whereby society comprehends it and, as a result, can respond appropriately to the changing conditions of the ocean. In addition, they hope for a safe ocean whereby livelihoods and life are well protected from any ocean-related hazards. They also hope to achieve an accessible ocean with equitable and open access to information, data, and technology, as well as innovation.
What Will the Ocean Decade Do?
Alongside the vision and missions for our oceans, the Ocean Decade will convene a wide range of stakeholders to align their investments, initiatives, and research collectively around several common goals to achieve the above results. These are to understand the ocean and its needs better and work to keep waste out to protect marine life ecosystems and human health. They will encourage initiatives to grow at national, local, and regional scales.
The essential elements will be capacity development, creating an enabling environment that ensures inclusivity, including geographic, generational, and gender diversity, and enhanced access to technology and data. The Ocean Decade is not going to set ocean policy. It will generate knowledge and build scientific capacity that will contribute directly to the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other global policy frameworks. They will directly support Sustainable Development Goal 17.
One of the most significant enablers and cornerstones of the success of the Ocean Decade will be data and information. Using this ocean-related data will be crucial in achieving their vision and missions for our oceans. The first phase began on January 1st, 2021, and quickly gained momentum. The initial actions began with innovative
programmes for ocean science research on a range of issues. These were the first building blocks and propelled action to enhance ocean science and transform that knowledge into excellent solutions for sustainable development. Further actions are also in the pipeline, and places such as Colombia, Japan, Canada, and the United States have set up their National Decade Committees.
How Do I Get Involved in the Ocean Decade?
There are several ways you can get involved in the Ocean Decade. For one thing, you can join a voluntary, self-organising Ocean Decade Stakeholder Engagement Network or establish one yourself. These networks play an essential role in the co-delivery and co-design of Decade Actions and raising awareness about the Ocean Decade at a regional, national and local scale. If interested, register your voluntary stakeholder engagement network via an online platform with the Decade Coordination Unit.
After you have registered, these stakeholder networks will become the Global Stakeholder Forum members. This will provide a platform for virtual and in-person connections and collaborations. The Decade Coordination Unit uses the Global Stakeholder Forum to convene communities of practice around the Ocean Decade Challenges and encourage exchange between stakeholder groups with similar interests. There are also funding and partnership opportunities and meetings, conferences, requests for input, and training events that will be broadcast on the virtual platform.
The Ocean Decade has great potential to reverse the damage of our oceans and make them the perfect place for marine life to thrive. Already, they have conducted several events and webinars to learn and understand our oceans and their needs. It is only the beginning of the Ocean Decade, though; there is still time to go. However, they seem right on target to have some solid scientific knowledge of how to reduce and eradicate waste in our oceans and keep them clean by the 2030 target.