Protecting our oceans, our future: what can EU do? (text & video)


Dr Susan Gardner, Director, Ecosystems Division, UN Environment Programme; Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director, Natural Capital, DG Environment, European Commission; Karlijn Steinbusch, Program Manager People & Nature, Adessium


Stefan Sipka, Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre

There is growing recognition of the need to address the climate and ecological crises, but the role of oceans is often forgotten. Unsustainable aqua-culture, overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, plastic waste, marine engineering and oil drilling, are having a devastating impact on marine life, and, consequently, threaten human well-being. Over-fishing, in particular, is weakening the ability of oceans to act as a natural carbon sink, thus undermining climate action.

The year 2021 has seen new efforts to raise the ambition for protecting oceans and marine ecosystems. The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 sets out a protection target of at least 30% of the sea in the EU waters. Likewise, the 30% target for protecting oceans worldwide by 2030 is being discussed in the framework of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow also brought increased awareness about the potential role of oceans in contributing to climate mitigation.

This Policy Dialogue explored the role of oceans in the climate and ecological crises, as well as the state of play and prospects for protecting oceans and marine ecosystems in the EU and beyond, including the role of the EU.

European Policy Centre, YouTube, 2 December 2021. Text and video.

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