Ocean, Seas and Coasts

The ocean’s power of regeneration is remarkable - if we just offer it the chance. We are in reach of a whole new relationship with the ocean, a wiser, more sustainable relationship. The choice lies with us.

Sir David Attenborough

We live on a blue planet, with oceans and seas covering more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface. Oceans feed us, regulate our climate, and generate most of the oxygen we breathe. They also serve as the foundation for much of the world’s economy, supporting sectors from tourism to fisheries to international shipping. Despite their importance, oceans are facing unprecedented threats as a result of human activity. Every year, an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the world’s oceans. At the same time, climate change is damaging coral reefs and other key ecosystems; overfishing is threatening the stability of fish stocks; nutrient pollution is contributing to the creation of dead zones; and nearly 80 per cent of the world’s wastewater is discharged without treatment.

Explore the Data - Information and Knowledge

Climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – are putting economies, social well-being, human and ecosystem health at risk, while jeopardising opportunities to reduce poverty, and improve lives and livelihoods. Our ocean and coasts are being degraded by direct human activities, climate pressure and pollution from land, air and water sources that harm marine life, undermine coastal communities, and negatively affect human and ecosystem health. Ocean, estuarine, and coastal areas are vast and often difficult to access and, therefore, generally under-sampled and poorly understood.

Observing and monitoring systems are essential to better understand the impacts of society and human activities on ocean ecosystems and the services they provide. They are necessary to characterize and understand coastal and ocean dynamics and vulnerabilities at different temporal and spatial scales and are fundamental to guide human actions in response to natural events and potential climate change impacts, anticipating the occurrence of extreme weather and oceanic events and helping to minimize consequent personal and material damages and costs. A variety of physical, chemical and biological data have been collected to better understand the specific characteristics of each ocean area and its importance in the global context. Data and products obtained by an observatory are hence useful to a broad range of stakeholders, from national and local authorities to the population in general.

Besides exploring oceanic patterns and dynamics, these observatories have proven to be important tools to support the sustainable use of the ocean and coastal zones.

Drivers

Pressures

 

State 

Impact

Response

Global Land Cover; Population Density; Crop Dominance; Main Global Drainage System; Population: Number of inhabitants; Change in Population

Phosphate; Nutrient Pollution; Organic Pollution; Dissolved Oxygen; Ocean Pollution; Nitrate

Global Distribution of Seagrasses; Mangroves; Global distribution of coral reefs + additional

Index of Coastal Eutrophication; Eutrophication and hypoxia

Policies by country; policies (number)

Additional Monitoring Tools
More Resources – Selected Assessments and Reports