Ocean Equity Research

Ensuring equitable outcomes when implementing SDG 14

By Bianca Haas

Three out of the seven targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 – life below water, already expired and the global community is still a long way off to achieving these three targets as well as the remaining ones. But what are the obstacles undermining the achievement of SDG 14?

This paper summarised existing literature on the overall progress of achieving SDG 14 that showed that progress is underwhelming.  As identified by Sachs et al., (2022), SDG 14 is one of the most under-implemented SDGs of all. Moreover, existing conservation measures often exacerbate existing inequities (Armstrong, 2020) by disproportionally burdening disadvantaged communities and countries in the global South.

Countries are facing several challenges when implementing SDG 14, including ill-defined indicators, lack of recognition of traditional and Indigenous knowledge, lack of funding, or the transfer of conservation burdens from the global north to the global south.

Potential ways forward could be to use the existing ocean governance framework and also ratify and implement the new Agreement for Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions. These existing and new initiatives cover similar issues as SDG 14 and would be an important step towards achieving SDG 14. It is also important to revise the existing indicators and include traditional and Indigenous knowledge.

The burdens of conservation and management measures have to be shared equitably. When countries implement new measures, they need to ensure that disadvantaged communities are not carrying a disproportionate burden. Last, general funding and capacity-building to support developing countries in their efforts to achieve SDG 14 needs to be provided.

These recommendations are neither exhaustive nor innovative but summarise repeated calls from the global research communities. Working on these recommendations would be an important start to achieving SDG 14 in a just and equitable way.  

Access to paper here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10784-023-09603-z

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