Following the list of the SDGs, the Fourteenth goal is to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” (1).
Humans depend on the oceans and seas for essential goods such as food, water, and energy. Considering that they cover 70% of our planet, it is urgently necessary to solve the problems that they suffer and make them healthy. (2)
Life underwater is threatened every day by various factors such as overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat loss. These threats are huge dangers for the numerous species of fish that exist in the oceans as well as humans and industrial means that live dependent on maritime life. (3)
The Sustainable Brands website points to yet another threat that is unfortunately rarely mentioned when talking about ocean pollution: apathy.
The problems that oceans and marine life face could be easily solved by governments. In fact, they have the resources to find valuable solutions for these situations, but unfortunately, the state of ocean life is a problem that is rarely talked about. (3) In fact, on average, only 1.2% of the budgets available for natural research are used to try to solve the problems mentioned above. (1)
The real threats
To paint a clearer picture of what’s happening in the oceans, we can focus on the “dead zones”, areas that do not contain enough oxygen to support maritime life, which has grown by 75% in 11 years from 400 in 2008 to 700 in 2019.
The health and sustainability of the oceans are really at stake. The real threats that are menacing ocean life are excessive use of plastics that are then wrongly deposited in the oceans, overfishing, the warming of the oceans due to climate changes and even the acidity of the oceans. (1)
The good news is that the number of countries that have already taken specific and creative initiatives to reduce overfishing and prevent ocean pollution is increasing and hopefully will continue to do so. (1)
Why are the oceans so important to human life?
Oceans cover 70% of the planet and play a central role in the existence of life on Earth. They contain the most diverse ecosystem, contributing to the global cycle, and helping to regulate the climate while also providing many natural resources such as food, materials, substances, and energy. (4)
However, another key point is that the issues of ocean pollution have a huge economic impact. Marine Protected Areas contribute positively to poverty reduction by increasing fish catch, creating new jobs, and contributing to improving health. However, they have been massively affected by the threats that the oceans are facing with a negative economic impact for governments all over the world. (4)
How much do you know about Climate Change?
If you are interested in this topic, you can take this quiz and see how much you know about SDG 14! (5)
How can companies help the achievement of SDG 14?
Find and implement policies that can protect the oceans
Each company has the responsibility to comply with the environmental standards that are proposed by national governments but they should aim to look beyond these standards and to implement new approaches to achieve sustainable growth, without negatively affecting the oceans, seas, and maritime life.
Companies should then define different ambitious policies to achieve results, with the help of partnerships, that can protect ecosystems in all forms of supply chains. The correct selection of suppliers and the different managing processes are essential to contribute positively to this goal. (6)
Research, develop and implement products, services, and business models that avoid a negative impact on the oceans
Companies are responsible for creating and ensuring that the products and services they offer do not negatively affect ecosystems, in this case, the oceans. They must be able to find innovative and creative solutions that assist the restoration of the oceans without harming them.
For example, the creation of environmentally friendly products or services, such as sustainable fishing technologies or alternatives to fertilizers that cause pollution in the oceans. (6)
Increase funding for ocean development protection
All companies that have a direct impact on the environment, regardless of the sector they are located in, must be able to play a key role in allocating capital to protect and develop the oceans and seas maritime life.
Companies with higher budgets can carry out different projects to can impact their industry and direct other companies to take the same actions in joint support to conserve, restore and develop ecosystems. (6)
Companies to take inspiration from
If you are looking for some inspiration, here is a list of companies that make a difference with their sustainable initiative towards the achievement of SDG 14.
Bioceanor is a start-up of French origin that develops underwater weather stations which monitor water quality. Their product, called AquaREAL, works autonomously and monitors a wide range of physical-chemical parameters such as pH or dissolved oxygen (OD) values.
This system uses a low-power network that transmits data in real-time and enables visualization on a web platform. This type of system allows predictive alerts to be possible and allows to achieve intelligent maintenance for aquaculture. (8)
Blue Ocean Gear
U.S. start-up Blue Ocean Gear develops smart fishing equipment based on the Internet of Things (IoT). They created Smart Buoy technology that monitors fishing equipment such as traps and nets in offshore locations. This allows determining the coordinates of animals that are in critical situations and facilitates rescue teams. (8)
The German-based start-up develops backpacks with recycled plastic from the ocean. They use a network of fishermen in Indonesia that collects plastics from the ocean. The start-up then recycles the polyethene terephthalate (PET) part of plastic waste and makes it durable, high-quality yarn. The backpacks are produced in China and then shipped to Europe and the USA via trains and ships. (8)
The Canadian-sourced start-up develops coastal intelligence platforms. The so-called CoastScout, a maritime device from the Internet of Things, provides high-resolution data and sends new updates every 5 minutes. In addition, the start-up has another Platform, CoastAware, which collects real-time data from a fleet of CoastScout devices. This helps companies identify marine hazards and make better decisions. (8)
Actions you can take in your daily life to achieve SDG 14
To achieve the objectives proposed in SDG 14, each one of us must be responsible. In addition to companies, organizations, and governments, we need to take actions in our personal lives that can help achieve the proposed objectives.
Here is a list of things each one of us can do to become closer to SDG 14 suggested by the United Nations. (7)
- Reduce Marine Pollution
- Protect and Restore Ecosystems
- Reduce ocean Acidification
- Sustainable fishing
- Conserve Coastal and Marine Areas
- End subsidies contributing to Overfishing
- Increase the economic benefits from the sustainable use of marine resources
GründerAtelier’s Impact Accelerator
This was the fourteenth article of our SDGs series, which aims to make the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals easy to put into practice for start-ups and entrepreneurs, in general.
If you are in charge or work for an impact-related start-up that supports one or multiple SDGs you can apply to our Impact Accelerator where we will guide you through the journey to become investment-ready and then, introduce you to our VC partners.
(1) Goal 14: Life Below Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from United Nations website. Accessed on 22/01/2022
(2) Goal 14: Life Below Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from Global Goals website. Accessed on 22/01/22
(3) Goal 14: Life Below Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sustainable Brands website. Accessed on 22/01/2022
(4) Goal 14: Life Below Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from UNEP website. Accessed on 22/01/2022
(5) Goal 14: Life Below Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from Culpeer for Change website. Accessed on 22/01/22
(6) Goal 14: Life Below Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from Blue Print website. Accessed on 22/01/22
(7) Goal 14: Life Below Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from Global Goals website. Accessed on 22/01/2022
(8) Goal 14: Life Below Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from Startus Insights website. Accessed on 22/01/2022