Marine conservation

© GIZ / Volker Koch

We support our partners in the conservation and sustainable management of coastal and marine ecosystems and in improving livelihoods for coastal populations.

The world’s oceans cover more than 70 per cent of our planet and are crucial to our well-being. Forty per cent of the world’s population live on or near the coast and the population there is growing disproportionately fast. Coastal regions produce over 60 per cent of the global gross national product and more than half of all megacities (> ten million inhabitants) are located by the sea. Many coastal populations depend on the resources and services provided by marine and coastal ecosystems. Coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds harbour enormous biological diversity, are highly productive fishing grounds and protect coastal areas from extreme weather events. Oceans sequester about one third of the CO2 emissions produced by humans and thereby slow down climate change. The ecosystem services provided by oceans and coasts are valued at around 36 trillion US dollars per year. The fisheries sector alone – especially small-scale fishing – employs over 200 million people worldwide and secures the livelihoods of more than ten per cent of the world’s population. For 3.2 billion people, fish provide almost 20 per cent of the animal protein they consume as well as important micronutrients. Coastal tourism is an important source of income for many of our partner countries, but like fisheries, it is dependent on intact marine ecosystems.

These ecosystems are under increasing pressure.

  • Only 3 per cent of the world’s oceans are considered untouched.
  • 34 per cent of fish stocks are overfished, 60 per cent are fished at maximum levels.
  • Over 60 per cent of coral reefs are threatened, 19 per cent are already destroyed.
  • 20-35 per cent of mangroves and 29 per cent of seagrass meadows are already destroyed.
  • Only about 8 per cent of the world’s oceans are designated as protected areas, and often the protection exists only on paper.
  • Around 11 million tonnes of plastic waste are discharged into the world’s oceans every year, the vast majority from land-based sources.
  • Over 37,400 species (marine and terrestrial) are threatened with extinction, and the extinction rate has increased dramatically since industrialisation.
  • Climate change is increasing the surface temperature of the oceans, and increased CO2 input is causing ocean acidification.

The critical importance of marine and coastal biodiversity for sustainable development is reflected in the international commitments of the global community. We support our partners in implementing these commitments and help to protect coastal and marine ecosystems and their services, manage them sustainably and improve the livelihoods of coastal populations. We promote protected areas and other area-based conservation measures, and work with our partners to promote sustainable management, financing, monitoring and local participation. Training and education measures strengthen the capacities of our partners and the local population, as well as their awareness of the value of biodiversity. We promote ecologically sustainable sources of income to improve the socioeconomic conditions of people on the coasts.

To achieve this, we use state-of-the-art approaches and work in an inclusive and gender-equitable manner at all levels, from local to international. We take important synergies and interfaces with other sectors into consideration, including the circular economy, forestry, agriculture, coastal protection and climate change adaptation. Our goal is a sustainable blue economy that promotes the sustainable economic development of the oceans and coasts, the livelihoods of the population and the protection of biodiversity.