The concept of a “World Ocean Day” was first proposed three decades ago. Now, every year people around the world unite on World Ocean Day to celebrate our blue planet. Yet the ocean is increasingly threatened by human pressures. We need to ensure a sustainable ocean for all, in order to protect our planet and the livelihoods of the billions of people who depend on it.
From its origins at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, to its formal recognition by the United Nations (UN) in 2008, celebrations of World Ocean Day have spread globally. Now, on June 8th every year people around the world unite to celebrate and honor our shared blue planet. The ocean and people are deeply interconnected.
The ocean covers 71% of our planet’s surface, containing 95% of the biosphere, and providing a myriad of services on which humans depend and benefit from. It ensures climate regulation, water supply and purification, cultural and spiritual values, among many other benefits. It is the primary source of food and livelihoods for a third of humanity, especially in coastal areas, fundamental to human well-being and socio-economic development. Yet the ocean is also increasingly affected by human pressures and stressors. Climate change, overexploitation of marine resources, and marine pollution influence ocean health and its ability to provide resilient marine social-ecological systems. Sustainably managing and governing the ocean is not only essential but a “collective responsibility of humanity”.
The need to ensure a healthy ocean is now strongly recognized in the international agenda, with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, Life Below Water and related targets, and the recognition of the importance of the Ocean-Climate nexus to achieving the Paris Agreement. In line with this global momentum on ocean sustainability discussions, we will soon be launching the first issue of the new journal npj Ocean Sustainability.
As the Editor-in-Chief of this new interdisciplinary journal, I am looking forward to supporting this unique forum for sharing research, critically debating issues, and advancing practical solutions to support sustainable ocean use and conservation. Decision makers require integrative, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge to design solutions and approaches that are based on the multitude of visions for what a sustainable ocean entails. For that reason, npj Ocean Sustainability welcomes research from natural and social sciences; from the legal, policy and management sciences to arts and humanities; from Indigenous scholarship to marine ecology. Research related to the UN 2030 Agenda, particularly to SDG 14 but also to its interconnections with other SDGs, is also of high interest to the journal. The journal will also welcome research from local to global levels, from all ocean basins, coastal states, and particularly large ocean states (small islands) and Indigenous scholars. As the journal takes a holistic view of the ocean, it welcomes submissions from any discipline or combination of disciplines, provided they each contribute to improve ocean sustainability.
This year (2022), World Ocean Day focuses on safeguarding the ocean, its biodiversity and building climate change resiliency. In order to protect our blue planet and the livelihoods of the billions of people who depend on it, we need to ensure a sustainable ocean for all. To that purpose, unraveling sustainable solutions and pathways based on the best ocean science is fundamental. This is what we want to support with npj Ocean Sustainability.