Goal 14: Life below Water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.


Reduce marine pollution

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


Protect and restore ecosystems

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.


Reduce ocean acidification

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


Sustainable fishing

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.


Conserve coastal and marine areas

By 2020, conserve at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.


End subsidies contributing to overfishing

By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation.


Increase the economic benefits from sustainable use of marine resources

By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.


Increase scientific knowledge, research and technology for ocean health

Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries.


Support small scale fishers

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


Implement and enforce international sea law

Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want.

Land based activities cause 80% of marine pollution.

Current Situation

Oceans make up the largest ecosystem on Earth and cover more than two thirds of our planet. They create approximately half of all oxygen, absorb around one quarter of human CO2 emissions, and help regulate temperature.

The ocean currently contains 16 times the amount of carbon as the entire terrestrial biosphere, which is around a 60% increase since the pre-industrial atmosphere. Global estimates state around 5 trillion particles, weighing over 260,000 tons, are afloat in our seas.

In some areas plastics outnumber even plankton 6:1. Climate change even alters ocean currents and circulation; the Atlantic Ocean circulation has decreased by 15% in just over a century.


of the oxygen on Earth is ceated by the oceans


of human CO2 emissions get absorbed by the oceans

Impact Opportunity

By 2015, an estimated 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated by human activity, of which only 9% had been recycled.

If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050. Marine plastic debris causes a shift in some migration patterns and increases instances of invasive species introductions.

The United Nations has included Life Below Water as a focus area because of the implications to marine life and other ecosystems. Humanity can move toward responsibly managing and protecting all marine life around the world.

Marine plastic debris causes a shift in some migration patterns and increases instances of invasive species introductions.


underwater photo Plastic Pollution

SDG Launchpad

Measuring the impact of plastic on ocean life.

Ocean Life Protector is part of the SDG Launchpad project series, between the AI for Good Foundation and the Applied Data Science with Venture Applications Course at SCET, UC Berkeley.

The project aims to understand existing and projected plastic marine debris in order to produce collision points between marine debris and aquatic life, as well as policy recommendations in light of the findings.

View the project here.


Shared Datasets

clown fish on coral reef

Bleaching of Coral Reef Areas

Coral reefs are one of the most diverse and ecologically important areas in the world, but many are threatened by rising ocean temperatures.

A huge school of Yellowstripe Scads in tight formation Fishing

Global Fishing Activity

Global Fishing Watch (GFW) is advancing ocean governance through increased transparency of human activity at sea.

close up photo of water in the ocean

Ocean Tracking Network

The Ocean Tracking Network is a global aquatic animal tracking, data management, and partnership platform.


Distribution of Surface Plastic Debris in the Eastern Pacific Ocean from an 11-Year Data Set

Goal Partners

Logo Australian Government

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment

The Tropical Water Quality Hub researchers have used big data and artificial intelligence approaches to create and test methods for analyzing thousands of social media posts. This method has the potential to turn every Great Barrier Reef visitor into a citizen scientist and encourage people to collectively engage in global conservation efforts.

Logo Citezens of the great barrier reef

COTS Control Program

Featured in the 24TH ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, the COTS Control Program works to reduce the impact of coral-eating Crown-of-thorns Starfish (COTS). This program also collects ecological data that monitors the health of the Reef and tracks progress of the current intervention programs.

Logo - SOA Sustainable Ocean Alliance

Sustainable Ocean Alliance

Sustainable Ocean Alliance is a global community of youth, entrepreneurs, and experts, all collaborating to solve the greatest challenges facing our ocean.

We’re applying Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to measure and accelerate progress on the United Nations SDGs. » Learn more

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Goal 14: Life below Water