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 | 15-09-2023

The importance of the oceans: livelihoods, challenges, solutions


At the Impact Festival for sustainable innovations, our managing partner and doctor of marine biology Dr. Alexis Katechakis gave a keynote speech about the importance of the oceans for our lives.

The seas – always at our service?

While many people are aware that we depend on the good condition of the seas for our summer vacation – no one wants to lie on a littered beach or not be allowed to go into the water because of algae – most people don't know how the seas “serve” us.
In addition to the so-called cultural services (e. g. beautiful holiday destinations) and providing services – food from the sea, provision of oxygen (about half in the atmosphere comes from the sea) – the oceans also provide us with the following two important services:

- Regulating services: Oceans are the No. 1 climate regulator and the largest natural carbon sink.
- Supporting services: Mangrove forests, for example, make a significant contribution to value creation and risk minimization in the insurance sector. The property damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida was reduced by $1.5 billion.


Why do we mismanage the oceans?

Nevertheless, we treat the oceans poorly and display mismanagement and over-exploitation to an alarming extent. This behavior has different causes:

  • Tragedy of the commons
    Fishing companies pay nothing for the fish taken from the sea. In addition, the motto often applies: first come, first served on the high seas, as only 1 % is legally protected.
  • Greed and selfishness
    Recent examples: deep-sea mining and illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing (IUU fishing).
  • Lost connection to nature  
    We have disconnected from nature.  
  • Pride  
    We behave like a monkey at the control panel of a nuclear power plant, randomly pressing buttons clueless what consequences they will trigger.
  • Lack of understanding
    We know more about the moon than the ocean. 95 % of the open ocean has not even been explored yet.

These causes then result in dangerous consumption patterns and behavior, misleading taxation and misdirected subsidies that keep unsustainable business models alive, as well as missing or weak legislation. The result: diverse challenges that we face and goals that must be pursued if we want to protect the oceans as a basis for life.




How can we do more for the ocean?

In our work as the only management consultancy that is a business partner of the UN Ocean Decade, we focus on these three goals: Clean Ocean, Productive Ocean and Inspiring Ocean.

And join a growing group of companies that are driving sustainable ocean-related innovations:

In addition, on an individual level, there are numerous ways in which each and every one of us can contribute to valuing and protecting the oceans in order to preserve them so that we can enjoy them for a long time and they can also protect us.


Click here for the keynote recording: