Ensuring ocean health will be a critical aspect of creating sustainable food systems and solving global food security crisis. But ocean health has been in rapid decline. Warming sea temperature, acidification, pollution and overfishing are caused by human economic activities and are all contributing to ocean stress. Eighty-five percent of marine fish stocks are estimated to be either fully exploited or overfished, and oceans are facing unprecedented threat of marine species extinction.
While the overall recognition of the global ocean crisis has been lagging, some organizations are starting to demonstrate signs of much-needed leadership. Our research shows that the most effective way for the private sector to have impact on the goals is by creating products and services in line with the SDGs and participating in collaborative initiatives, and these are the priority areas that companies should explore.
Among the most promising collaborative platforms is the World Economic Forum’s recently launched New Vision for the Oceans Initiative. Supported by the Benioff Ocean Initiative of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, the public-private partnership aims to bring together public, private and civil society sector stakeholders to achieve SDG 14.
Companies are also starting to think more creatively and responsibly about products and services. In an effort to boost closed loop production models and reduce plastic pollution, Adidas aims to create more than 1 million pairs of sneakers this year using ocean plastic, and other companies are launching campaigns to educate consumers about plastic waste (e.g. Sky Ocean Rescue). Integrated fisheries and biofuel production and vertical fish farming are among emerging technologies that may offer solutions for replacing unsustainable fishing practices. And while the global cruising industry remains a major polluter of oceans, it is under growing pressure from stakeholders and is starting to take steps to become more sustainable.