May 08th 2024

SDG: Goal 14 Life below water

SDG: Goal 14 Life below water: Hidden in the vast, blue depths of our planet lies a secret of immeasurable proportions – the oceans. They cover more than two thirds of the Earth’s surface and form the largest ecosystem that nature has ever created. It is no coincidence that our Earth is often referred to as the “blue planet”, as water dominates our world in many ways.

The oceans are not only a majestic backdrop, but also a vital source of life for us humans. They provide food, produce oxygen and play a crucial role in regulating our climate. The oceans absorb a quarter of our CO₂ emissions, but the consequences of decades of pollution and exploitation are devastating.

Climate change and ocean acidification are threatening the delicate balance of this life-giving ecosystem. The lives of marine life are endangered, while overfishing and pollution threaten biodiversity and destroy habitats.

It is time for us to rethink our relationship with the oceans and take responsibility for protecting this unique habitat. Because without healthy and intact oceans, life on land is also at risk. The future of our planet depends on the sustainable conservation and care of the oceans – a task we must all take on to preserve the heritage of our blue planet.

What is to be achieved?

Marine pollution, especially plastic pollution, threatens the health of our oceans and their inhabitants. To combat this threat, we must act decisively and significantly reduce pollution.

In addition, it is crucial that we sustainably manage, protect and restore our marine and coastal ecosystems. Healthy and biodiversity-rich marine areas are not only of ecological importance, but also essential for our own well-being.

Ocean acidification is another pressing issue that needs to be addressed. Climate change and increased uptake of CO2 are making seawater more acidic, with serious implications for marine life. It is therefore our goal to reduce acidification as much as possible in order to maintain the health of our oceans.

Sustainable management of fish stocks is essential to prevent overfishing and the extinction of species. We must end illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing practices and ensure that fish stocks are exploited in a sustainable way.

To protect the diversity of our oceans, at least 10 percent of the seas should be designated as marine protected areas and better managed. These protected areas not only serve as refuges for endangered species, but also as important research laboratories for the exploration and conservation of our oceans.

Furthermore, it is important to abolish subsidies that contribute to overfishing and illegal fishing. Instead, we should focus on enabling small island states and least developed countries to reap economic benefits from the sustainable use of their seas and coasts.

To achieve these goals, we need to deepen our scientific knowledge, build research capacity and ensure technology transfer. Only through joint efforts and international cooperation can we secure the future of our oceans.

How do we protect marine habitats?

As custodians of nature, it is our responsibility to protect and conserve marine habitats. This requires a holistic approach based on sustainable practices and respect for the diversity of marine life.

We are committed to the creation of marine protected areas where sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs and seagrass beds are protected from harmful human impacts. These areas serve as refuges for endangered species and allow marine ecosystems to recover and regenerate.

By promoting sustainable fishing practices, we help to prevent overfishing and reduce the destruction of habitats through reckless fishing methods. We are committed to setting fishing quotas, limiting fishing methods and protecting endangered species.

Another focus of our work is on reducing pollution, be it from plastic waste, chemicals or wastewater. Through awareness campaigns and educational programmes, we raise public awareness of the importance of clean oceans and mobilize them to take action.

We believe in the power of international cooperation and therefore work closely with other countries and organizations to find cross-border solutions for the protection of marine habitats. By sharing information and developing joint conservation measures, we can effectively contribute to the preservation of the oceans and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

Sustainable fisheries

In the world of seas and oceans, fisheries are a vital source of food and economic development. But to ensure that this resource is preserved for future generations, sustainable fishing is crucial.

Sustainable fishing means using marine resources in a way that does not overexploit or deplete them. This requires prudent management of fish stocks to ensure their long-term health and productivity. This includes setting fishing quotas, controlling fishing methods and times, and adhering to closed seasons to allow fish to reproduce.

Another important aspect of sustainable fishing is the protection of sensitive habitats such as coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forests. These ecosystems serve as nurseries and habitats for many fish species and contribute significantly to the health of the marine environment. By establishing marine protected areas, we can ensure that these valuable habitats are protected and preserved.

In addition, it is important to minimize the impact of fishing on other marine life, including non-targeted bycatch and damage to seabeds from reckless fishing practices. By promoting environmentally sustainable fishing techniques and developing innovative solutions, we can reduce the negative impact of fishing on the marine environment.

Ultimately, sustainable fishing is not only an obligation, but also an opportunity. By using marine resources responsibly, we can ensure that they are available to us all in the future.

Reducing marine pollution

Plastic waste is one of the main sources of marine pollution. Every year, millions of tons of plastic waste end up in the oceans, threatening marine life and damaging ecosystems. As consumers and society, we need to rethink our consumption behavior and actively take measures to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean. This can be achieved by avoiding single-use plastics, recycling plastics and supporting initiatives to clean up the oceans.

But plastic is not the only problem. Chemicals, oil spills, sewage and waste from agriculture and industry also contribute to marine pollution. To combat these sources of pollution, stricter environmental regulations and improved wastewater treatment are needed. Companies need to manage their waste products more responsibly and introduce alternative, more environmentally friendly production methods.

In addition, raising public awareness is crucial. Through awareness campaigns and environmental education, we can raise awareness of the impact of marine pollution and motivate people to take action for clean oceans.

Reducing marine pollution requires a joint effort at local, national and global level. Only by working together and acting decisively can we protect the health of our oceans and preserve the diversity of their life.

The situation in Germany

The input of nitrogen into the oceans is a serious problem that leads to eutrophication effects and endangers biodiversity. The target values set for nitrogen concentrations in the tributaries to the North and Baltic Seas are important steps towards tackling this problem. It is encouraging to see that there is a positive trend, especially with a decrease in nitrogen concentrations in the North Sea. This shows that our efforts are bearing fruit and that we are on the right track to improve the health of our seas.

Another pressing concern is the sustainable management of fish stocks. Overfishing not only threatens fish populations, but also the entire marine ecosystem. Although we have made progress and the proportion of sustainably exploited fish stocks has increased, we have unfortunately missed the target of managing all commercially exploited stocks sustainably by 2020. It is therefore essential to step up our efforts and find innovative solutions to curb overfishing and ensure the long-term health of marine ecosystems.

It is our responsibility to protect and preserve the oceans, not only for future generations, but also for the diversity of life they harbor. By working together at local, national and international levels, we can help create a sustainable future for our oceans.

And internationally?

The increase in so-called dead zones in coastal waters is alarming: there are now more than 500 such zones worldwide, covering a total area of around 250,000 km². This number has doubled every ten years since the 1960s.

Marine plastic pollution is also a cause for concern. Every year, around 10 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans. This plastic waste does not decompose biologically, but breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. Without urgent action, the annual amount of plastic waste entering the ocean is expected to triple in the next twenty years. It is our responsibility to counteract these threatening trends. Every individual can contribute to reducing marine pollution, be it by avoiding single-use plastic products or actively participating in beach clean-ups. In addition, political action and international cooperation are needed to effectively combat the input of nutrients and waste into the oceans and to maintain the health of our seas.


Despite some progress in the sustainable management of fish stocks and the reduction of marine pollution, many challenges remain. The increasing number of dead zones and the persistent pollution from plastic waste are alarming developments that need to be addressed urgently.

Increased cooperation at international level is required to achieve the goals of SDG 14. The implementation of effective conservation measures requires close coordination between governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations. Only through joint efforts can we secure the future of our oceans and preserve livelihoods for generations to come.

The overview of the 17 goals can be read here

Overview of the 17 goals


You can find information from the United Nations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) here:

Information from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development can be found here:

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