Global Ocean Governance and Ecological Civilization: Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy for China
Winther, J-G; Su, J
Date: 30 September 2020
CCICED: China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development
The ocean is fundamental to the health of the global ecosystem supporting life on earth, including the survival of human beings. In addition, the marine ecosystem provides numerous benefits for people and society, including food, recreation, transportation routes, aesthetic environment, a steady supply of clean water, protection from ...
The ocean is fundamental to the health of the global ecosystem supporting life on earth, including the survival of human beings. In addition, the marine ecosystem provides numerous benefits for people and society, including food, recreation, transportation routes, aesthetic environment, a steady supply of clean water, protection from natural hazards such as floods and storm surges, as well as many other present and potential benefits. Indeed, humans are inextricably interconnected to the ocean. The choices we make and the actions we take in managing and governing the use of the oceans have profound and lasting impacts on human well-being and societal development. Environmental damage and degradation of marine ecosystems may have great social costs. The oceans face a constantly increasing number of threats, in particular habitat destruction, (coastal) pollution, overfishing, climate change, hypoxia, and ocean acidification. For example, by absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2), the ocean has undergone increasing acidification. Rising anthropogenic nutrient discharge has resulted in widely distributed coastal hypoxia zones, often accompanied by severe coastal acidification. Significant changes to the world’s oceans —such as sea-level rise—have been recorded as a result of climate change. Through appropriate actions, humanity can contribute to slowing down the ongoing changes. This will, however, require fundamental transformations in all aspects of society — how food is grown, land is used, goods are transported, and how the energy that supports our lives and economies is produced. It will require a joint effort between governments, businesses, civil society, youth, and academia to make this shift. Clear and directed actions are needed to limit the threats and minimize the impacts to the oceans, and thereby lay the foundation for the oceans’ ability to continue to serve as the basis of human life. The recent rapid development of China’s economy and social well-being was initiated in the coastal cities during their opening to the international community. However, both the rapid expansion of the coastal economy and the heavy pollution discharged from inland sources have exerted a heavy toll on China’s coastal seas. In the future, expanding ocean-based sectors such as offshore renewable energies and marine biotechnologies will, while boosting job creation, energy supply, food security, and infrastructure, exert further stress on China’s coastal seas. Therefore, a healthy ocean environment in China is a prerequisite for drawing on these direct and indirect economic opportunities that the ocean provides. In exploring and developing ongoing and potential future ocean-based industries, issues such as the environment and sustainability, use and development of new technologies, and social sustainability and gender aspects are key factors to be considered. The ocean offers great potential for China’s economic and social evelopment. However, feeding more than 9 billion people by 2050 while protecting biodiversity and the natural systems on which life depends is one of the greatest planetary challenges we face today. With dedicated efforts to ensure the further development of current and emerging industries in a sustainable manner, the ocean’s potential can continue into the future. A healthy and sustainable ocean is essential for maintaining prosperous societies now and in the future. Yet marine ecosystems are impacted by human activities both on land and at sea. However, standard approaches for ocean management often neglect connections between ecosystems and are thus characterized by a sectoral approach to management. Changing this will require a shift to ecosystem-based integrated ocean management (IOM) to strike the balance between protection and production. IOM brings together relevant actors from government, business, and civil society and across sectors of human activity (Winther et al., 2020). IOM is an important tool for ensuring the sustainable use of coasts and oceans, and provides a framework for how the oceans could be managed through a knowledge- and ecosystem-based approach. Silo management is a common challenge within national and international governance, and sectoral silos will need to be broken down to achieve IOM, both on national, regional, and local levels, as well as across borders. China would truly benefit by continuing to develop its efforts to manage its ocean interests (both nationally and globally along the Belt and Road) so as to strike the balance between protection and production on the basis of the principle of IOM. The ocean is expansive—and the related and relevant governance and management issues are complex and extensive. Thus, even if this work has been addressing a number of key aspects, we urge that ocean studies continue within the framework of CCICED to fully reflect the importance of the ocean to society. We have also identified a number of areas meriting further consideration in order to provide policy recommendations to China.
College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
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