Press Release

Without safeguarding oceans, achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will be impossible

June 4, 2017

Ocean Sunset
Marine protected areas play a critical role in protecting fragile marine and coastal habitats.

UN Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other partners participated today in the Ocean March, with the launch of a new publication ‘Sea, my Life: Protecting Oceans, Sustaining our Future’. The Ocean March— a parade of boats, was hosted by the office of the Mayor of New York City as a mark of solidarity with the drive to protect the oceans, a day before the historic Ocean Conference (June 5-9) at the United Nations in New York, to renew momentum towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, ‘Life Below Water’.  

The new publication demonstrates how marine protected areas play a critical role in protecting fragile marine and coastal habitats. The selection of case studies in the report highlight proven approaches with a focus on strategies for establishing, expanding and  enhancing the effectiveness of marine protected areas. 

Launching the report, Magdy Martinez-Soliman, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support said, “We know that the ocean is the blue heart of our planet, on which we all depend.  It provides food, coastal protection, oxygen, tourism assets and many other ecosystem goods and services that are essential for supporting livelihoods and jobs. Without safeguarding oceans, achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will be impossible.” 

Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programmes, Global Environment Facility said, “Unless governments and users of marine and coastal resources take urgent action, many critical habitats could be irreparably degraded within our lifetimes. Stronger and scaled-up conservation actions – and investments in effective protection and management – need to be triggered now to avoid diminishing crucial ocean and coastal assets.”

With GEF financing, UNDP has been actively supporting a range of programmes that have delivered measurable impacts cutting across most of the SDG14 targets at local, national, regional and global scales. Over the past decade, UNDP has supported the establishment and expansion of a wide variety of marine protected areas, over an area of more than 177.8 million hectares, in 48 countries. As an implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP has helped countries access more than US$207.5 million in cumulative GEF grants supporting marine protected areas through its Ecosystems and Biodiversity and Water and Ocean Governance portfolios, as well as small grants accessed through the GEF-Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP). This investment has been complemented by almost US$750 million in co-financing from governments and other partners, including bilateral and multilateral donors, the private sector and civil society organizations.

“UNDP is working with more than 100 countries to help restore and protect our oceans and better manage our stressed marine resources. From reducing the risks from marine invasive species, to creating marine protected areas in Belize, to preserving fishing livelihoods in India, we’re tackling many urgent threats to our oceans. This work will help to make our oceans healthy, protect the livelihoods and economic activity that our oceans support, and end poverty,” says Andrew Hudson, Head, Water and Ocean Governance Programme, UNDP.

Unlike most other SDGs, which have only one or two targets with delivery years of 2020 and 2025, SDG 14 has five targets for 2020 or 2025. The targets address major challenges facing the oceans, including pollution, overfishing, fisheries subsidies, coastal habitat loss, and acidification.

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Contact information

  • Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, email: |  tel: +1 212 906 5043
  • Christian Hofer, Senior Communications Officer, Global Environment Facility, email: | tel:  +1 202 413 4185