17 January 2017 - The SDGs are in place, but are policymakers ready and willing to bite? Dave Steinbach explains why now is the time to move from intent to action – and outlines a new approach on how to deliver SDG 14.
In six months, policymakers will meet in New York for the 'Our Oceans, Our Future' conference, when they will discuss how to reduce the decline of the world's oceans. The conference is timely given the threat facing marine ecosystems: a recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) shows that nearly 90 per cent of global fish stocks are being fished either at maximum capacity or beyond biologically sustainable levels.
Fisheries are critical for global food security and poverty reduction – providing up to 820 million people with a direct or indirect income, and more than 3 billion with a critical source of protein.
But with depleting stocks, a doubling of per capita fish consumption over the past 50 years, and a global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, there is an urgent need to find ways to sustainably manage global fisheries.
The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development includes a specific goal – Goal 14 – to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. In New York, representatives from government, international agencies, civil society, financial institutions, the scientific community, the private sector and others will discuss practical approaches to achieving SDG 14.
But this highlights an important challenge: one year after the SDGs were agreed, there have been few concrete approaches put forward to move discussions on delivering SDG 14 from rhetoric to reality.
Six key questions
In advance of this global event, we've been busy at IIED thinking through what it would look like to put SDG 14 into practice. A briefing paper provides an important first step to guide thinking in New York.
Through this research, we have developed an analytical framework (that can be viewed below or on IIED's Flickr site, where users can zoom into the image) that breaks down strategic decision-making on SDG 14 into six main areas:
- What mixture of policies and regulations need to be in place to achieve each of SDG 14's seven targets, and how can they be complemented by fiscal incentives to stimulate action?
- How can these instruments be designed in a way that achieves an optimal balance between economic, social and environmental outcomes? These could include an emphasis on higher revenue generation, distributional benefits to the poor or sustainable resource management, depending on the context
- How can the combination of policies, regulations and fiscal incentives be coordinated across different targets to achieve SDG 14 more efficiently and holistically? Can we draw on ecosystem or landscape approaches to align incentives to deliver SDG 14?
- What institutional support is needed to build capacity or improve the enabling environment and ensure that policies and fiscal incentives succeed?
- How can different actors support implementation at international, regional, national and sub-national scales? and
- How can efforts to achieve SDG 14 complement efforts to achieve other SDGs – for instance Goal 1 (no poverty) or Goal 5 (gender equality)?