SDG 14 Life Below Water

SDG 14 aims to conserve and sustainably use resources from oceans, seas, and marine environments. Beyond humankind, oceans support over 200,000 identified species and countless other species that have yet to be discovered. Keeping our oceans clean and healthy is in our best interests because they help protect our drinking water, weather, climate, food and oxygen. Managing the impact of trade and transportation means increasing international cooperation to protect vulnerable habitats, invest in sustainable industry practices, and address wasteful habits. Targets include mitigating marine pollution by 2025 by reducing sources of pollution from human sources on land, enacting laws that protect our oceans from destructive fishing practices such as illegal fishing and overfishing, and offsetting the impacts of ocean acidification through enhanced scientific cooperation and action at all levels. By failing to take control of marine pollution, we will have negatively impacted the health and biodiversity of our oceans species and ecosystems. The spread of hypoxic dead zones will increase, ultimately impacting key marine industries like tourism and fishing, and the livelihoods of many. USask ranked 38th in the 2020 Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings category for research on life below water and education on and support for aquatic ecosystems. Empowering students to be part of the research and learning regarding life under water will help meet the targets of this ambitious goal.

You might be able to align your teaching to this SDG if you want your students to be able to:

  • Connect the basics of our marine ecosystem to threats to its well-being.
  • Describe the role of climate change on our oceans, and the role oceans play in moderating the effects of climate change.
  • Evaluate sustainable fishing practices and the impact humankind is having on the health of our oceans.
  • Investigate a country’s legal, political, informal relationships to the sea and debate improvements to sustainable methods of collecting natural resources.
  • Identify and advocate for improved access to sustainably harvested marine life, marine conservation and the development of scientific marine research.

You might consider having your students reflect, share, act in some of these ways:

  • Host a documentary screening. Show your class or community why protecting our life under water is crucial for our planet’s survival. Watch films such as Mission Blue or Oceans and let the imagery speak for itself.
  • Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre explores how networks of ecosystems and people are affected by the climate crisis, and highlights how climate action is an opportunity for positive change across different scales. They also offer educational resources for primary, secondary, and tertiary education.
  • Review the themes and areas of expertise at the Global Institute for Water Security – connect your students with potential research or mentorship experiences.

Some curricular connections and questions for students might be:

Media – What are some important considerations for reporting on stories of marine sustainability?

Environment – How does marine conservation differ from other environmental issues?

Poverty, wealth, and power – How are different populations affected when environmental protection is not a priority?

Indigenous Peoples – How are Indigenous communities protecting and advocating for our ocean environments? How are they uniquely affected by its degradation?

Peace and conflict – What conflicts have occurred, or are ongoing, regarding the protection of our oceans and their resources?

Oppression and genocide – What happens to environmental protection during times of genocide and conflict?

Gender politics – How is the health of our oceans related to gender issues?

Social justice and human rights – How are people advocating for the protection and conservation of our oceans, seas and marine resources?

Health and biotechnology – How does the health of our ocean environments affect the health of all global citizens?


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