Oceans need urgent protection to stem the erosion of their resources, which are worth around $24 trillion, WWF warned today.
In a report produced with the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and the Boston Consulting Group, the charity highlighted the value of oceans, which includes direct outputs from fishing and aquaculture, tourism, education, trade and transport as well as other benefits, such as carbon sequestration.
According to WWF, goods and services from oceans are worth US$2.5 trillion a year, ranking it just below the UK in terms of economic value. Neglecting this asset could in some ways be likened to not investing in a fund that yielded a 10% return, it says.
WWF warns that more than two thirds of the oceans’ economic value is produced from assets that rely on healthy ocean conditions. Collapsing fisheries, mangrove deforestation and disappearing corals and seagrass mean that the ocean economy is not delivering its full potential, it states.
The report outlines recommendations for reversing this trend. These include the creation of public-private partnerships that take into account the wellbeing of communities, ecosystems and business. Enabling a network of cross-sectoral partnerships to share ideas, solutions and blueprints for sustainable practices will ensure that even the least developed countries have access to resources they need, it says.
WWF is testing a funding model to channel capital to large-scale marine conservation projects, which it claims has the potential to generate profits.
UN summits this year on the post-2015 sustainable development goals and climate change both represent huge opportunities for governments to commit to policy and financing to restore ocean ecosystems, WWF says.
Douglas Beal, partner and managing director at the Boston Consulting Group, said: “Being able to quantify both the annual and asset value of the world’s oceans shows us what’s at stake in hard numbers; economically and environmentally. We hope this serves as a call for business leaders and policymakers to make wiser, more calculated decisions when it comes to shaping the future of our collective ocean economy.”