A school of fish swims in the sea

Sustainability

In the context of the DAM

WE PROMOTE THE SUSTAINABLE USE OF THE COASTS, SEAS AND OCEANS THROUGH RESEARCH, DATA MANAGEMENT AND DIGITALISATION, INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSFER.

MISSION STATEMENT OF THE DAM
The activities of the German Marine Research Alliance are aimed at consolidating the sustainable management of coasts, seas and oceans. But what do the expressions “sustainable” and “sustainability” mean in this context? Which concepts, strategies and objectives are relevant when it comes to protecting coasts, seas and oceans and using them sustainably? The following information has been compiled to explain the framework within which the DAM carries out its activities.

Seas and oceans play a key role in global climate processes. They are among the most important ecosystems on Earth and they have a direct impact on the lives of millions of people. They are subject to considerable anthropogenic pressures and at the same time closely interwoven with human culture. They are a source of food and raw materials; they provide trade routes; they are places we long for and a source of inspiration even for people living far from the coast.

The sustainable management of our natural resources – including our coasts, seas and oceans – is a challenge for society and a key issue for the future of humankind. The question what sustainable development ought to look like and how it can be achieved must be addressed by science, politics, the economy and society as a whole.

The DAM serves as an overarching bracket which encompasses all the different focal areas of German marine research – from river and coastal systems to the open seas and deep oceans, from the tropics to the polar regions. Marine ecosystems are all interconnected in countless ways and in a state of constant exchange. The DAM looks at marine issues in the context of taking suitable preventive action, focussing on the protection and sustainable use of the oceans.

The global challenges related to climate change and biodiversity loss provide the thematic framework, as do the United Nations (UN) ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are also the focus of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, from 2021 to 2030. Another important context is implementing the Sustainable Development Goals on a national and European level.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) | Picture: UNDP

In adopting the 2030 Agenda in 2015 under the umbrella of the United Nations, the global community made a commitment to pursue 17 global goals for sustainable development and a better future (Sustainable Development Goals: SDG). 

The guiding principle of the 2030 Agenda is to enable people all over the world to live in dignity in conditions that are fit for human beings, while at the same time conserving natural resources in the long term. For this reason, the mutually interrelated sustainability goals address economic, ecological, social and cultural aspects. The 2030 Agenda emphasises the shared responsibility of all protagonists: in politics, business, science, civil society – and of every single person. These global goals are to be implemented on a regional level, which is why the EU and the German government are also among those working on implementing them.

Sustainable Development Goal 14 aims to protect oceans, seas and marine resources and to use them sustainably. The principal goals are:

  • Prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution and nutrient contamination
  • Sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems
  • Minimise and address the impacts of ocean acidification
  • Effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices
  • Conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas
  • Prohibit fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing
  • Promote sustainable use of marine resources by Small Island Developing States and least developed countries
  • Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity, transfer marine technologies
  • Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
  • Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The United Nations has proclaimed the years 2021 to 2030 to be the international Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Policymakers, society and scientists are to work together to successfully implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals – for “life below water” and for the people who live by and with the oceans. The goal is to reverse the trend, putting a halt to a further deterioration in the health of the coasts, seas and oceans, and allowing them to recover.

Germany’s Federal Government is committed to the guiding principle of sustainability. The Federal Government’s current sustainability policy is based on the 2030 Agenda.

In 2002, the Federal Government presented Germany’s Sustainability Strategy. The strategy and its individual measures are continuously being refined. This concept serves as a guide for action in line with a comprehensive sustainable policy. The German Sustainability Strategy was last updated in 2021.

The German Sustainability Strategy addresses all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and thus also includes targets for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources.

The targets for the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, for example, are to reduce nutrient pollution and to manage fish stocks sustainably. The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive has created a uniform regulatory framework for the environmental status of the marine waters of the member states of the European Union, which is being jointly implemented in Germany by the federal and the individual state governments. Beyond this, Germany is also committed to the sustainable management of the oceans on an international level.

The European Union’s approach to sustainable development addresses the way in which EU is going to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in association with its member states.

This comprehensive approach brings together economic, social and environmental aspects, which reinforce each other. Climate change and environmental degradation are addressed as existential threats to Europe and the world. This is also the context of the European Green Deal, a roadmap for the EU to address climate and environmental challenges and to make possible the transition to a modern, resource-efficient, competitive economy, one that is equitable and inclusive.

 

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The federal government and the regional governments of the five Northern German federal states are supporting and funding the current establishment of the DAM. In addition, the DAM is supported by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

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