UN SDG 14: Life below water

“Healthy oceans and seas are essential to our existence. They cover 70 percent of our planet and we rely on them for food, energy and water. Yet, we have managed to do tremendous damage to these precious resources. We must protect them by eliminating pollution and overfishing and immediately start to responsibly manage and protect all marine life around the world.”

Source: https://www.globalgoals.org/14-life-below-water


Earth has long been known as the ‘Blue Planet’. Seen from space, the swirls of blue represent drive home the fact the presence of water on our planet, and it’s important in our lives. North American Space Association (NASA) reports that Earth’s oceans contain about 96.5% of the planet’s water. The UNDP notes that ‘The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. They are teeming with life – there are 200,000 identified species within the oceans. They also act as carbon sinks, absorbing about 25% of carbon dioxide emitted every year.

The UN SDG Goal 14 – Life Below Water – asks us to focus on this silent and giant enabler of life on Earth. The SDGs aim to ‘sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impact of ocean acidification. We’re beginning to see how the oceans are affected by human activity – whether it’s coral reefs dying, overfishing that is wiping out marine life or the rising amount of garbage and microplastics piling up in the oceans. The complex interactions between wind currents, Earth’s magnetic field and other elements make life possible,

Coincidentally, this is another UN SDG Goal target where a teenager has had an outsize influence! Dutch teenager Boyan Slat was determined to tackle the piles of garbage floating around in the world’s oceans. When in high school, he had an initial idea to use natural oceanic forces to clean up plastic already in the oceans. His TED talk went viral, and Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup Foundation soon after. Dubbed ‘the largest cleanup in history’, Slat and his company have been going hard at reducing ocean waste. Since 2011, he has designed various machines to gather trash that is floating in the ocean. While the first designs faced technical failures, he’s seen success with the ‘Interceptor’ model of his latest invention. In 2019, they made headway cleaning ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’. Their intention is to expand operations and use a fleet of systems to remove 90% of the floating plastic from the five oceanic gyres by 2040. What’s more, their ocean cleaning systems are energy neutral.

It’s not all about technology or machines. Gabriella D’Cruz, a marine conservationist in Goa, demonstrates the value of seaweed as a carbon sink. ‘A kelp forest with sea life like otters can capture 8.7 megatons of carbon annually’, she says, drawing our attention to natural and sustainable solutions that exist all around us. Shaan Lalvani is a mechanical engineer with a love for deep sea diving. She was horrified to discover how the water’s rising acidity was killing off coral reefs. Cleaning products like detergent have are high in acidic chemicals, contributing to the increase in acidity. Shaan went on to create Coco Custo, a non-toxic laundry powder without parabens, glycols, phosphates and other chemicals. The product is biodegradable, ensuring that the water used for washing retains as much of its alkalinity as possible.

There’s lots of ways we can pool our strengths to limit the dirt and chemicals we release into the waters around us. Let’s go back to the days of clean blue seas and flourishing marine life within it.


PS. You can read our blogs on the other UN Sustainable Development Goals here.

Good news! To make life easier for our users and donors, HelpYourNGO has collated a list of verified non-profits working towards UN SDG 14 across rural and urban India. Once you’ve found an NGO you like, click on the ‘Donate Now’ button and fill in the mandatory information, as required by the Income Tax Authorities. Once you have completed your donation, HelpYourNGO will send a confirmation email to you. A donation receipt along with the Sec 80G certificate will be shared within 3 days of the donation being processed. No hassles for you!

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