The ocean and the blue economy are fundamental to addressing the triple planetary crisis—says UNDP

Recommends robust and urgent actions in lead up to the UN Ocean Conference

June 8, 2022
UNDP Micronesia Coral Reef

UNDP Micronesia Coral Reef

UNDP Micronesia

NEW YORK – World leaders agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, a roadmap of 17 goals which are a minimum for the people and planet to survive. Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) set a series of ten ambitious targets for ocean protection and restoration, several with target dates for achievement of 2020 or 2025. Out of all the Global Goals, #SDG14 has received the lowest investment and none of the targets that were supposed to be met in 2020 were met. While some progress has been made, much remains to be done if the ocean SDG agenda is to be realized by 2030.

From 27th June through 1st July at the UN Ocean Conference, UNDP will be engaging in several high-level side events in Lisbon and online, to advocate for urgent, concrete  actions that are imperative to tackle the ocean crisis and address the urgent transformational change required in both ocean and land-based sectors.

“SDG 14 remains the most underfunded SDG yet holds immense potential to be a game changer in addressing the triple planetary crisis. Every penny invested in achieving the Paris Agreement is a penny invested in the long-term sustenance of the overall blue economy. In a business-as-usual fossil fuel use scenario, many ocean species and ecosystems, and the food security and livelihoods of billions of people, face existential threats,” states UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, Haoliang Xu.

Over the last twenty-five years, UNDP has mobilized upwards of $1 billion for ocean protection and restoration actions in over 100 countries.  In many cases, these investments have translated into transformational impacts on ocean ecosystems and sectors, including moving the world’s largest tuna fishery (W&C Pacific) to 100% sustainability, and reversing one of the world’s largest hypoxic dead zones in the Black Sea.

UNDP is also a founding partner of the new Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR), which was launched in 2020. The GFCR is a 10-year, $625 million blended finance vehicle that leverages grants to unlock private sector investment in blue economy, incubate investable projects and scale up coral reef conservation. In the newly endorsed 10-year Investment Plan by the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, multiple Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are considered as priority ecosystems.

UNDP’s blue economy vision emphasizes the restoration of the nearly $1 trillion in annual socioeconomic losses due to ocean mismanagement as well as tapping the new and emerging ocean sectors, from marine genetic resources to ocean-based energy - that are realistic, pragmatic and sustainable for increased socio-economic opportunities. UNDP is committed to support at least 25 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other coastal countries in their blue economy assessments, planning and implementation. processes. 

Achieving the SDG 14 agenda requires transformational change across a number of not only ocean but also land-based sectors such as agriculture and waste management.  UNDP works across issues and scales, from local to global, in close partnership with governments, UN agency partners, intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, communities and the private sector, towards accelerating progress on SDG 14 including through:

  • Plastics management: The use and management of both plastics and nutrients needs to transition to a far more ‘circular’ approach which combines reduction in use with measures and incentives to recover and reuse these resources.
  • Ecosystem-based approaches: Marine ecosystems need to be managed using integrated, inclusive, cross-sectoral, ecosystem-based approaches at all geographic scales using area-based tools such as Marine Spatial Planning.
  • Reduce carbon footprint: The carbon footprint of ocean-related sectors, particularly shipping and fishing, needs to be minimized through increased energy efficiency and a transition to green energy sources.
  • Sustainable seafood supply chain: The fisheries sector needs to continue efforts to scale up sustainable and transparent seafood supply chains while introducing robust measures to ensure effective fishery compliance monitoring and enforcement.
  • Marine Protected Areas: Efforts must continue to increase the scale, representativeness, connectivity, and management effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas worldwide, ideally to achieve 30 percent of the ocean under some form of protection.
  • Blue Economy: Coastal countries and SIDS need to take steps to realize the full potential of their sustainable blue economies through the development and implementation of blue economy assessments, policies, strategies, and plans including a strong focus on community-based actions.
  • Regional and Global Conventions: Countries need to meet their obligations under a wide range of existing ocean global and regional legal frameworks, from the Convention on Biological Diversity to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions to the various Regional Seas, Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs), and Regional Fisheries Conventions and Agreements.

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Media queries: Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York | email: