Oceans and Marine Life

Diver with marine life

The ocean is not just ‘the lungs of the planet’ but also its largest carbon sink - a vital buffer against the impacts of climate change. It nurtures unimaginable biodiversity and produces food, jobs, mineral and energy resources. However, the science is clear – the ocean is facing unprecedented threats as a result of human activities, and we need to act now. The UN Ocean Conference (Portugal, 27 June -1 July) will seek to propel much needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action.

wind turbines on the ocean

Ahead of the UN Ocean Conference, UNDP checks in with the Special Envoy for the Ocean, who reminds us: “No healthy planet without a healthy ocean, and the ocean’s health is measurably in decline.”

Bouys in the water next to a boat.

Through an FAO project in Fiji, fishers learn how to access aquatic species further offshore and are given the skills and equipment they need to do it. It’s about building capacity and resilience.

The ocean produces at least 50% of the planet's oxygen, it is home to most of Earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein and nutrition for more than 3 billion people. Despite all of this, the ocean is at risk, facing a multidimensional crisis driven by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, invasive species and climate change. UNDP cautions this is time for action.

A small rowing boat in the ocean seen from above the clouds.

FAO presents the lessons of the International Symposium on Fisheries Sustainability, supporting the development of a new vision for sustainable and socially just fisheries, resilient to the changes of the twenty-first century. From the symposium a set of recommendations emerged to improve the sustainability of capture fisheries and progress towards the different targets of the SDGs. The unequal progress in fisheries management highlights the urgent need to replicate and re-adapt successful policies to maintain healthy fish stocks.

divers working on coral reef nursery

The southwest coast of Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest and most populated island, is flanked by the country’s longest fringing reef system, affectionately known as the Coral Coast. Namada is one of four traditional villages in the Korolevu-i-Wai District that will benefit from the Investing in Coral Reefs and the Blue Economy programme. Partly funded by the Joint SDG Fund, the programme supports the customary fishing rights owners for the Korolevu-i-Wai/Koro-i-Nasau qoliqoli (community) to operate coral-reef-associated ecotourism attractions and activities to generate revenue to support the effective management, conservation, and sustainable use of the Locally Managed Marine Area (KiW/KiN LMMA), as well as help support the communal development needs of the community, while also offering them economic opportunities.


Two people fishing in a canoe

The ocean produces 50% of the planet’s oxygen and absorbs 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming. Oceans are the lungs of our planet and a major source of food and medicine. Yet we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished. Revitalization: Collective action for the ocean is the theme of this year’s World Oceans Day, urging us to work on creating a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty, but restores its vibrancy. Learn, spread the message and join our event online.

worker loading tuna

Two decades of action and a singular success: The Western and Central Pacific Ocean is now the only major ocean area where all tuna stocks are harvested sustainably. This is a story of cooperation and diligence, a wide array of expertise, a pool of talent and skills as wide-ranging and vast as the 40 million square kilometres of ocean area whose fisheries the Pacific Island nations have been tasked to protect.

A fisherman fixes a net

The UN Oceans Forum, organized by an UNCTAD-led coalition, called for sufficient and reliable long-term investment in a Blue Deal to conserve and use the ocean for sustainable development.

coral reef and fish

UNESCO World Heritage coral reefs cover over half a million km2 worldwide – the equivalent of the size of France – exhibiting exceptional biodiversity. They play a critical role in absorbing carbon emissions and protect coastlines from storms and erosion. Over a hundred indigenous communities are directly dependent on them for their subsistence. But the scientific data concerning these coral reefs is now very alarming. Reefs are bleaching far more rapidly than the initial science suggested, making them highly vulnerable to starvation and disease.

The Blue Connection film tells an inspiring story of unity, support, and multilateral collaboration between three countries - Barbados, Belize, and Costa Rica - and their collective efforts to sustainably develop their coastal communities in the wake of the global pandemic. The story shares an intimate perspective of the daily lives and challenges faced by people working in the blue economy through an UNCTAD  project.

A shiver of sharks swimming

The Global Fund for Coral Reefs programme, led by the UN Fiji Country Office, mobilizes commercial investments and promotes financial sustainability of coral reef conservation.  

Fisherman in a boat full of fish

2022 is the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, to highlight the importance of small-scale artisanal fisheries for our food systems, livelihoods, culture and the environment. It aims to strengthen science-policy interaction, empower stakeholders, and build new or strengthen existing partnerships. Join us and help in our goal of conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources by spreading awareness of the beauty and sustainability of the artisanal fisheries. They might be small in scale, but big in value.

Three ladies pose at the beach shore.

Since 2009, almost 14 per cent of the world’s corals have disappeared, according to a recent report from the UNEP. The Sea Women initiative works to promote restoration of coral reefs.

A boat at sea with empty plastic bottles inside seen from above.

UNEP brings us the murky truth about plastic in the ocean: Every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our ocean. Join 113,637 other people and take the Clean Sean Pledge.