SDG 14 Background Note - ESCWA

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SDG 14 Background Note

Country: Arab region

Publication Type: Information material

Cluster: 2030 Agenda and SDG Coordination

Focus Area: 2030 Agenda

Initiatives: Arab Forum for Sustainable Development

SDGs: Goal 14: Life Below Water, Agenda 2030

Keywords: Covid-19, Oceans, Fisheries, Arab countries, Marine ecosystems, Nature conservation, Environmental management

SDG 14 Background Note

March 2022

The Arab region is surrounded by five oceans and seas, which provide income for millions of people across all Arab countries and offer unique marine environments with great biodiversity. However, the marine areas surrounding the region are under threat from ocean warming, acidification, illegal fishing, and marine pollution from offshore and onshore development activities. A growing proportion of marine areas are being exploited at biologically unsustainable levels, and sustainable aquaculture remains in its infancy in most of the region, unable to fulfill the growing demand for fish in Arab countries. These trends threaten the health, food security, cultural heritage, and prosperity of people across the region today and for generations to come.

The pandemic negatively affected Arab countries’ efforts to achieve SDG 14. Decreased demand for seafood products and disruptions to international trade, the movement of people, and certain fishing operations affected the livelihoods of those working in fisheries and adjacent industries (with negative implications for SDGs 1, 2, and 8), while the intensive use of single-use plastics to combat the pandemic is expected to increase pollution on seabeds and beaches. Moreover, many data collection operations were derailed which, along with reduced fiscal space, threatens to negatively impact government efforts to advance the sustainability of marine environments.

Healthy oceans are not only essential for coastal communities, but also for the stability of the global climate, as damage to marine areas can affect the absorption of greenhouse gas emissions and impact weather, affecting life on land and below water. As the region looks to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have an opportunity to shift towards more informed, coherent, and effective policies that protect marine areas, enhance data, and improve institutional and technical capacities to effectively monitor and sustainably manage marine resources and enforce associated regulations.

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