The ocean has been a cornerstone of human development throughout the history of civilization. People continue to come to the coasts to build some of the largest cities on the planet, with thriving economies, culture and communities. Ocean and coastal ecosystems provide us with resources and trade opportunities that greatly benefit human well-being.
These benefits are often taken for granted as we fail to recognize their underlying value. In our narrow pursuit of progress through purely economic and social development we often fail to protect the health of our marine system that we depend upon. Today, however, we increasingly realize the importance of healthy ecosystems for sustainable development that is reflected in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recently adopted by the United Nations. We can no longer afford to apply an antagonistic paradigm between development and conservation. The SDG framework provides the world with the opportunity to transform how we think about the ‘Oceans and Us’.
This publication highlights the critical contribution of healthy marine and coastal ecosystems to achieving the SDGs and describes the role of credible and accessible data, well communicated knowledge generated through dialogue with users, in supporting informed decision-making.