Marine conservation

© GIZ / Marketa Zelenka

GIZ supports partners at national, regional and global levels to implement these commitments and help them protect and sustainably manage coastal and marine ecosystems and their services.

The world's oceans cover more than 70 per cent of our planet and are crucial to our well-being, ecologically, economically and culturally. 

40 per cent of the world's population now lives less than 100km from the sea and this proportion is steadily increasing, especially in Asia. Over half of all megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants are located by the sea. The world's coastal regions produce over 60 per cent of the global gross national product and many coastal dwellers depend on the resources and services provided by marine ecosystems. Coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds harbour enormous biodiversity, are highly productive fishing grounds and protect coasts from extreme weather events. The oceans absorb about a quarter of the CO2 emissions produced by humans and act as carbon reservoirs to counteract climate change. In total, the ecosystem services of oceans and coasts are valued at about 36 trillion US dollars.

Fishing, shipping, tourism, energy (oil/gas/wind) and marine mining are among the most important marine economic sectors. The fisheries sector alone - especially small-scale artisanal fisheries - employs over 200 million people worldwide. Directly or indirectly, it provides livelihoods for more than 10 per cent of the world's population. Fish provides nearly 20 per cent of animal protein consumption and essential micronutrients for 3.2 billion people. Coastal tourism is an important and fast-growing source of income for many of our partner countries, which -like fisheries- depends on intact marine ecosystems.

However, many marine and coastal ecosystems are under increasing pressure and their stability, functions and services are increasingly at risk:

  • Only 3 per cent of the world's oceans are still classified as pristine;
  • 33 per cent of fish stocks are already overfished, 66 per cent are fished to the maximum;
  • Over 60 per cent of the world's coral reefs are threatened, 19 per cent have already been destroyed;
  • 20-35 per cent of global mangrove stocks and 29 per cent of seagrass beds have already been destroyed;
  • Only about 8 per cent of the world's oceans are officially designated as protected areas, but protection often exists only on paper;
  • About 11 million tonnes of plastic waste are discharged into the world's oceans every year, the vast majority originating from land-based sources. Plastic is found in the deepest and most remote parts of the oceans;
  • Over 37,400 species (marine and terrestrial) are threatened with extinction worldwide, the rate of extinction has increased by up to a hundred times since industrialisation;
  • Climate change is increasing the mean surface temperature of the oceans, increased CO2 input is causing ocean acidification.

The critical importance of marine and coastal biodiversity for sustainable development and human well-being is also reflected in the international commitments of the international community, for example:

  • in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);
  • in the 2030 Agenda with Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development);
  • in the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity;
  • in the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius;
  • the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

We support our partners at national, regional and global levels to implement these commitments and help them protect and sustainably manage coastal and marine ecosystems and their services.

We promote marine and coastal protected areas and other area-based conservation measures (for example, self-managed local protection and use zones) to strengthen their administration, financing, monitoring, surveillance and participatory management with our partners (government institutions, non-governmental organizations, private sector and science). We use training and educational measures to strengthen the capacities of our partners and raise awareness among the population of the value of biodiversity and the services it provides. We promote ecologically sustainable sources of income to improve the living conditions of people on the coasts.

To achieve this, we use modern concepts and approaches in an inclusive and gender-sensitive way, including ecosystem-based adaptation, nature-based solutions, Sustainable Blue Economy, co-management, locally managed marine areas, sustainable tourism and marine spatial planning. We work on key interfaces with other sectors, such as circular economy, forestry (mangroves), agriculture, sustainable value chains, coastal protection and climate change adaptation. Our goal is a Sustainable Blue Economy that promotes the economic development of the oceans and coasts, the livelihoods of coastal populations and the protection of biodiversity.