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Goal 14

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Goal 14 is focused on two major ideas: improving environmental conservation in aquatic areas, and creating and implementing sustainable practices for development that involves bodies of water/aquatic resources.


14.1 - By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution

14.2 - By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans.

14.3 - Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels

14.4 - By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics

14.b - Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets


Background Knowledge

Our oceans are one of the most precious resources on the planet. They contain 97% of the Earth’s water, provide food, energy, and medicine, help break down and reduce pollution and waste, and serve as the planet’s biggest carbon sink. Oceans are the world’s largest ecosystems, home to over a million species. They also absorb 23% of the CO2 generated by human activities and drastically help to manage the impact of climate change. Unfortunately, this has had detrimental effects on the health of our oceans and other bodies of water.


According to the United Nations: “Destructive trends in ocean health have not abated. [...] Urgent and coordinated global action is needed to continue to advance towards SDG14.”



Here are some of the biggest challenges identified:

Coastal Eutrophication: Eutrophication is the process by which bodies of water become enriched with excess nutrients, which leads to plant and algal growth on the surface. Large algal blooms can cause dead zones in the ocean that disrupt aquatic ecosystems and can even affect human health. These algal blooms have become more and more common in recent years. 

Ocean Acidification: The oceans are 30% more acidic than they were in pre-industrial times. The increasing acidity has been linked in studies to the growth in fossil fuels and atmospheric CO2. The rapid rate at which the pH of the ocean is decreasing has caused declining numbers in species of shellfish and other aquatic organisms.

Ocean Warming: According to NASA, 90% of global warming is occurring in the ocean, and as a result sea levels much more rapidly than they naturally should be. These higher temperatures can disrupt aquatic ecosystems, intensify hurricanes and natural disasters, and cause ice sheets to melt at a faster pace. 

Pollution: Plastic debris makes up 80% of ocean pollution. In 2021, 17 million metric tons of plastic were dumped into the ocean. By 2040, this number is expected to be 2-3 times greater. Once discarded, these plastics break down over time to form microplastics that can be easily ingested by marine life and eventually humans. This pollution also affects coastal tourism and contributes to climate change.

Overfishing: While commercial fishing is not inherently an issue, vessels often catch fish faster than they can be naturally replenished, and more than a third of global fish stocks end up being overfished. Many fish species never recover from being overfished, and the communities that rely on them for food and jobs suffer as a result.

The Challenge

For this challenge, innovate a product, company, service, etc. that helps advance Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.



Your project must address one of the following targets: 14.1, 14.2, 14.3, 14.4, or 14.b. If you need a starting point, think about addressing one of the five big challenges described above. Be as creative and as innovative as you want!

(Tips: make sure you innovation doesn’t already exist; make sure your innovation is realistic; be prepared to explain how your design helps and how you will go about creating it).

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