Use the future to build the present
Ocean Stewardship
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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy

Emerging Topic:

3.5Ocean Stewardship

Associated Sub-Fields

The ocean is central to the existence of life on Earth. However, human activity is putting increasing strain on the ocean, directly through activities such as overfishing and pollution, and indirectly through the emission of greenhouse gases and associated anthropogenic climate change.

While the intensity and scale of ocean uses has reached unprecedented levels and traditional ocean industries have been joined by emerging and new sectors,1 the tools and resources available to us to scientifically explore this dynamic environment are also unprecedented. Ongoing science, monitoring technology and innovations in bio-prospecting mean that we are gathering unprecedented amounts of ocean data that can be put to a wide variety of uses, from supporting conservation policy to developing exciting new biotechnology applications ranging from the development of pharmaceuticals to the creation of novel bioremediants and enzymes.

Yet despite tremendous technological advances and achievements, the ocean science and innovation landscape is highly uneven. Few countries have the capacity to observe how ocean temperatures, currents, oxygenation, sea life, and ocean plastic vary across depths and over time. At a global level, large gaps exist in understanding around these issues, and technological and resource allocation limitations are substantial hurdles. Likewise, the connection between people and the ocean — whether in small communities or megacities — is rapidly changing in many places, and is a key component of understanding changing perceptions of ocean stewardship. What is known about changes in ocean conditions and humanity’s relationship with the ocean underscores an urgent need for new paradigms of ocean stewardship alongside efforts to achieve a truly equitable and sustainable “blue economy” for the future.2,3

Selection of GESDA Best Reads and further key reports

The 2020 report on the Ocean Genome from Blasiak et al is a result of efforts to help meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and describes the state of understanding associated with equitable and sustainable use of the ocean’s genetic resources in order to assist policymaking.4 It has also been used as the basis for a scientific review paper.5 In 2019, Levin et al reported on the urgent need for ocean observation at depths greater than 200m.6 Also in 2019, Rabone et al surveyed best-practice examples associated with the genetic resources found in marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.7

The oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface so it’s unsurprising that efforts to protect and exploit their resources scored joint highest for environmental impact alongside decarbonisation. Although deep sea mining was assessed as having the highest disruptive potential, low awareness of the need to harness the oceans biochemistry and the highly-interdisciplinary challenge posed by efforts to repair the ocean mean these topics were judged to require greater attention. This perhaps reflects the fact that a failure to protect critical marine resources could cause enormous negative disruption for the three billion people who rely on the oceans for their livelihoods.

GESDA Best Reads and Key Resources