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"We Should Make Ocean Literacy a Point of Discussion at the Dinner Table " - Mary Wisz, World Maritime University

Life below water

At the Global Goals Cafe co-hosted by LUCSUS’ researcher Vasna Ramasar in May, we interviewed Mary Wisz from the World Maritime University to find out more about sustainable development goal, SDG 14 - Life below water – which aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

This interview is part of LUCSUS' efforts to feature reserach and issues relating to the work of the centre.

How are you involved with SDG 14?

I work with this goal every day. Ocean sustainabililty is an essential part of our students’ training and in the research we do  at the World Maritime University. Students from all over the world have been sent as ambassadors by their home countries to to participate in our Master’s and PhD programs in maritime policy and ocean governance, with the plan to apply what they learn to their professional work back home. Our research aims to strengthen the science-policy-industry interface to make sure that the ways humans interact with the oceans and coasts are as sustainable as possible, and will support the long term needs of society and a healthy environment.

Why is SDG 14 so important?

Goal 14 helps humans to thrive by proactively protecting our oceans and coasts. 70 percent of our planet is covered by water, and our planet’s life support and economies depend on it functioning in predictable ways that support ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are the things that human societies need that nature provides for free, when things function properly. These are things such as food, clean water, air, and energy, access to transport, etc. We can see that in many parts of the World, especially the most populated parts, our fisheries, coral reefs, and clean water resources are failing to meet the needs of people. Billions of people are affected by this. SDG 14 is the means by which the international community can collaborate to reverse threats to the oceans and coasts by engaging scientists, policy makers and industry.  . If we do not prioritise to achieve sustainability in our oceans and coasts, we are going to have to spend far more money and resources in the future to adapt to a highly unpredictable environment, unsuitable for our needs.

How does this goal relate to the other SDGs?

SDG14 is also linked to food security through fisheries and mariculture (zero hunger- SDG2), economic sustainability (no poverty- SDG1), clean water (SDG6) and clean energy (SDG7) to name but a few. In general, all the SDGs are interrelated – progress on one ideally advances progress on others.

What can you as an individual do to help meet the goal?

The most important thing you can do is to support politicians who have a sustainable development agenda for improving the marine environment in collaboration with scientists, policy makers and industry. We need to exert pressure on decision makers to reach targets for ocean sustainability.

We should also encourage our educators to use more time on helping school children to understand the impact of human activities on the environment. We should insist that teachers and schools introduce ocean literacy into science lesson plans at every age.  At home, we can make ocean literacy a point of discussion around the dinner table. For example, the EU’s Sea Change project  has many resources. So does www.wwf.se.

Mary Wisz
Mary Wisz

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