As the business world strives to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and align corporate strategy with the ten principles of the UN Global Compact, the latest Sustainable Development Goals Report offers both encouraging and less than positive results.
On the good side, the world is making considerable process in some critical areas, with extreme poverty declining considerably, under-5 mortality rates falling by almost 50% since 2000, and the access to electricity seeing a sharp increase. At last, we see countries finally stepping up and taking all-important actions to protect the planet. Important to mention is that illegal fishing is being addressed collectively, marine protected areas have doubled since 2010 and no fewer than 186 parties have now ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change.
On the less favourable side, however, the progress that we are making in some areas is easily offset by the regress shown in others. Not only is ocean acidification accelerating and sea levels rising, but the past years have been the warmest on record, with more than one million animal and plant species at risk of extinction.
Below are some of the findings related to SDG 14, concerning the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, sea and marine resources for sustainable development:
• Ocean acidity has increased by 26% since pre-industrial times and is expected to rapidly increase by more than 100% by 2100. This is very bad news, as this impacts the ability of the ocean to absorb CO2, thus endangering marine life and hampering its ability in moderating climate change.
• Land-based pollutants and marine debris continue to threaten coastal habits, but it is possible to see improvements in water quality.
• While it is true that the number of marine protected areas has doubled since 2010, a lot more needs to be done to safeguard biodiversity areas.
• The decline in fish stocks finally seems to have stabilised, but there will need to be a concerted effort in rebuilding, notably in those regions that are depleted.
• Finally, while most countries encouragingly now have framworks that address the needs of small-scale fisheries, implementation needs to be worked on as the next critical stage.
To read the full report, please visit: www.un.org/development/desa/publications/sustainable-development-goals-report-2019.html