The recently issued 2021 Sustainable Development Goals Report1 indicates that the global community is at a critical moment in its pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More than a year into the global pandemic -- which produced immense PPE waste that is the subject of TiredEarth’s #Maskuary Campaign—more than 4 million of lives have been lost, the human and economic toll has been unprecedented, and recovery efforts so far have been uneven, inequitable and insufficiently geared towards achieving sustainable development. The pandemic is threatening decades of development gains, further delaying the urgent transition to a sustainable green recovery which necessitates understanding the links between climate change, health, and inequality; and implementing ambitious climate change policies, which align with the Paris agreement. The United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a call for action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. More important than ever, these goals provide a critical framework for a COVID-19 green recovery, more inclusive economies. However, sadly the pandemic has hindered progress on the SDG.
As we celebrate World Water Week which is the leading conference on global water issues where participants from more than 130 countries discuss a broad array of water-related topics, ranging from health, to waste, technology, biodiversity, and the climate crisis, the 2021 SDG Report points out that:
“more than 3 billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, and over 80 per cent of world merchandise trade is carried out by sea. Oceans contribute to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth and food security. However, the benefits they provide are increasingly undermined by human activities. Rising CO2 emissions are driving ocean warming, acidification and deoxygenation, which threaten marine ecosystems and the people who depend on them and are overwhelming the capacity of oceans to moderate climate change.
Overfishing depletes fish stocks, a third of which are already overexploited. Land-based pollutants, including plastic pollution (PPE) and nutrient and sewage runoff, adversely affect coastal habitats and communities. These changes have long-term repercussions that require urgent scaling up of protection of marine environments, investment in ocean science, and support for small-scale fishing communities and the sustainable management of the oceans.
[….]. Achieving SDG Goal 14 requires the implementation of international instruments, through legal and institutional frameworks, for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans in a cross-sectoral and integrated manner. While progress has been made, implementation varies among the instruments, highlighting the need for renewed effort and increased support.”
World Water Week is an important catalyst for change. As it attracts leading researchers, decision-makers, business representatives, NGOs, students, and international organizations who come together to get new inspiration and form alliances that can influence other international processes such as the global climate talks. This year’s Thematic Scope, was written by the distinguished water experts and is Building Resilience Faster, with a focus on concrete solutions to the world’s greatest water-related challenges, starting with the climate crisis and including water scarcity, food security, health, biodiversity, and impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here is how SDG 14 is implemented around the world:
Climate Crisis: Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson who co-authored the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including ocean in Australia’s climate policy says the key to fighting the climate crisis is saving the oceans2.
Water Scarcity/Health: The mayor of Orlando, FL asked residents to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars for at least a week, saying water usage needed to be cut back because of the recent surge of Covid-19 hospitalizations. Because the Orlando Utility Commission treats the city’s water with liquid oxygen and supplies that ordinarily go toward water treatment have been diverted to hospitals for patients suffering from the virus3.
Impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic: The Future of Reusable Consumption Models Report which is a collaboration between the World Economic Forum and Kearney says it is possible to prevent almost half of annual plastic ocean waste by reusing just 10% of our plastics products.
Tired Earth’s #Maskuary Campaign draws attention to the plastic protective equipment pollution to the environment stemming from the pandemic which has led to a global plastic pollution crisis. You may find interviews concerning Tired Earth’s Maskuary Campaign here:
CUHK Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change: https://www.tiredearth.com/interviews/tired-earth-an-interview-with-cecilia-lam-founding-director-of-cuhk-jockey-club-museum-of-climate-change