The Rising Pressures on Ocean Governance

Asterios Tsioumanis, Ph.D.
International Institute for Sustainable Development, June 2021


Our home is called the blue planet for a reason. The ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface. The marine environment is of vital importance for humanity. The ocean generates half of the oxygen we breathe. It contains 97% of the world’s water. It regulates climate and weather patterns. It provides food and sustains livelihoods for over three billion people. It provides the transport route for 90% of global trade. Scientists estimate more than two million species live in the ocean and we have barely identified 10%. But some of the species we have discovered are proving very useful, including in biomedical research.
Human activities have degraded or destroyed the marine ecosystem, jeopardizing the invaluable services it provides. Climate change, marine pollution, overfishing, destruction of marine and coastal habitats, invasive species, oil and gas extraction—the hazards are extensive. These threats not only rob the ocean of its aesthetic and inspirational value—they directly endanger human survival. There can be no sustainable future without a healthy ocean.

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