Our Future is Blue: Linking Ocean and Coastal Information with Societal Needs
by Martin Le Tissier, Future Earth Coasts Executive Officer
We live on a Blue Planet, and Earth’s waters benefit many sectors of society. The future of our Blue Planet is increasingly reliant on the services delivered by marine and coastal waters. Maintenance of these services relies on the advancement of effective, evidence-based decisions for management and sustainable development of human’s relationship with complex socio-ecological systems. More than three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods, yet examples of how society is placing pressures on coastal and ocean systems include:
- 30% of the world’s fish stocks over exploited, which is well above the levels required for sustainable yields.
- Oceans absorb around 30% of the carbon dioxide released by human activity that has led to ocean
acidification increasing by 26% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
- Marine pollution mainly due to land-based sources has reached alarming levels, with 13,000 pieces of plastic waste on average, littering every square kilometre of ocean.
The 4th GEO Blue Planet Symposium served as a forum for discussion of ocean and coastal information needs for sustainable development, Blue Growth and societal awareness. The symposium brought together producers of ocean and coastal information and current and potential users of ocean and coastal information, sharing their experience with the audience.
The three day symposium included five sessions and panel discussions that covered oceans and coastal information from the perspective of environmental and economic pressures, blue growth opportunities, sustainability measures and societal awareness. Future Earth Coasts were, together with Emily Smail from Geo Blue Planet and University of Maryland, involved in convening a session on ‘Ocean and Coastal Information in Support of Sustainable Development’.
Session 4: Ocean and Coastal Information in Support of Sustainable Development
The global ocean and coastal communities recognize the need for a step change in the way in which they coordinate and “hardwire” the links between technological innovation and sustained observations of the ocean and coasts, the analyses and forecasts, the information and services they jointly provide, and the approach to ocean and coastal policies for sustainability.
This session aimed to connect current and potential users to ocean and coastal information that is currently available to support sustainable development in general, and the SDG monitoring and implementation in particular. The sessions concluded with a facilitated discussion, led by Future Earth Coasts, to identify information gaps and priorities for future research that could be led by GEO Blue Planet.
All the presentations and videos of the Symposium will be available for download and together with the Event Outcomes will be published on the Geo Blue Planet website by fall 2018. In the mean time join the network on @GEOBluePlanet