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One ocean, one future


© IOC/Joe Bunni
A healthy ocean for prosperity

"With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you're connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live" (Sylvia Earle)

Modern human societies will depend upon the ocean for a sustainable future. The ocean provides the oxygen for every second breath we take, key economic and social services, and natural resources for developing economies. It is the conduit for 90% of world trade and connects people through shared cultures. We depend upon the ocean’s ecosystem services to protect our coasts, clean our water, provide food, and regulate the climate and weather. Developing sustainable environmental and social systems will require careful stewardship of the important assets of the ocean.

Yet our ocean and its resources are being deteriorated and depleted by unsustainable exploitation. Barely 1% of the planet’s ocean is currently protected and we have far too little knowledge of its importance to our future. To mitigate its rapid degradation, we must first observe and understand the ocean. We must take responsibility for this global commons, and build on shared knowledge and international cooperation to correct these trends.  

UNESCO supports sustainable ecosystem-based policies for the ocean and coasts by boosting international scientific cooperation. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is leading international efforts to establish and coordinate tsunami warning systems, expand the global monitoring system for the ocean in its role in the Earth’s climate system, promote ocean health through marine science, and help Nations manage their marine and coastal assets. Through intergovernmental processes implemented by the Commission, all Nations, whether coastal or landlocked, can share and benefit from the opportunities and values of the world ocean.

World Heritage marine sites represent in surface area one third of all marine protected areas, and UNESCO supports the Convention on Biological Diversity’s target to protect 10% of the ocean by 2020, so that we can continue to enjoy the extraordinary cultural and biological diversity of the ocean and preserve it for future generations.