Context

Context

Our oceans and coasts are more than ever at risk. Through the Blue Solutions project, four leading environment, conservation and development institutions combine their efforts to develop and bring together innovative marine and coastal management approaches and policy advice – focusing on holistic solutions for a sustainable use of marine and coastal resources. By collating best practices, improving methods, enhancing capacity and fostering knowledge exchange, action is being supported at local, sub-national, national, regional and global levels. The aim is that healthy and productive marine and coastal biodiversity will continue to benefit human well-being for generations to come.

Marine and coastal biodiversity and ecosystems…

… are fundamental for human well-being
Mankind depends on oceans and coasts for its well-being and economic development. By 2050, the human population is likely to rise to over nine billion. Today, already about half of the human population live within 150 kilometers of the coast.

… provide valuable services
Healthy marine and coastal ecosystems are highly productive and provide us with a multitude of valuable goods and services. These range from food, medicine, climate regulation and coastal protection to cultural services such as recreational and spiritual benefits.

… are at risk
Despite their global significance, marine and coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs face a wide array of threats – mainly due to anthropogenic causes. Habitat loss and degradation, overfishing and destructive fishing methods, eutrophication and pollution deteriorate the state of oceans and coasts. In addition, the impacts of climate change are heavily affecting these unique ecosystems.

Threats to Marine and Coastal Biodiversity:
  • Land use change and habitat loss:
    Unsustainable tourism, intensifying aquaculture and poorly managed coastal development negatively impact coastal habitats. Consequently, at least 35 percent of global mangroves have been lost or converted and almost 75 percent of the world’s coral reefs are threatened.
  • Unsustainable fishing:
    Valuable fish stocks are severely threatened by overfishing as well as destructive and unsustainable fishing methods. An estimated 32 percent of the world’s fish stocks are either over-exploited, depleted or are recovering from depletion.
  • Eutrophication and pollution:
    Litter, poorly treated or untreated sewage, agricultural run-off and toxic chemicals – the vast amount of marine pollution comes mainly from land-based activities. This severely harms marine and coastal ecosystems. Excess run-off of land-based nitrogen and its derivatives from fertilizers leads to eutrophication and results in large, oxygen-poor ‘dead ocean zones’.
  • Climate change:
    Sea-level rise, ocean acidification and changes in species distribution are problems related to increasing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, with impacts on biodiversity and humanity.

… need global efforts to survive
The world’s decision-makers have agreed to aim for a balance between the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity to sustain their ecosystem services for the benefit of all of us.

To halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, enhanced concerted efforts at global, regional, national and local scale are crucial.

“Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. In the marine realm, these include provisioning services, such as food; regulating services, such as climate and disease regulation; supporting services, such nutrient cycling and primary production; and cultural services, such as recreational, spiritual, and other nonmaterial benefits.”
(Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005)