Editorial: an OMBAR Perspective on the United Nations' Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development
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The year 2021 saw the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Ocean and coastal ecosystems play crucial roles in supporting our planet and our lives, from regulating climate and protecting shorelines, to providing food and employment. The UN estimates that billions of people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment (World Ocean Assessment I), published by the United Nations in 2016 (UN 2016), flagged that much of the ocean was severely degraded. The second (WOAII), released last year, suggests that the situation has not improved (UN 2021). The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow demonstrated that the world’s oceans and its species and ecosystems are under immense pressure from climate change. The UN Decade of Ocean Science is a call to arms for scientists and others to deliver research to enable societal outcomes which include a clean ocean, a healthy and resilient ocean, a predicted ocean, a safe ocean, a sustainably harvested and productive ocean and a transparent and accessible ocean. These are lofty ambitions, but can they be realised in a ten-year programme that has no funding attached to it? This question is particularly relevant when one considers the starting point and how little progress has been made in addressing other major global environmental issues such as the climate crisis.
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