Posted on 23 April 2015
Baby green turtle hatchling swimming to the sea still in the shallows of the beach. Anano Island, Wakatobi, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. (© Jurgen Freund / WWF)
The value of the ocean’s riches rivals the size of the world’s leading economies, but its resources are rapidly eroding, according to a report released by WWF today. The report, Reviving the Ocean Economy: The case for action - 2015, analyses the ocean’s role as an economic powerhouse and outlines the threats that are moving it toward collapse.
The value of key ocean assets is conservatively estimated in the report to be at least US$24 trillion. If compared to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank seventh with an annual value of goods and services of US$2.5 trillion.
The report, produced in association with The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is the most focused review yet of the ocean’s asset base. Reviving the Ocean Economy reveals the sea’s enormous wealth through assessments of goods and services ranging from fisheries to coastal storm protection, but the report also describes an unrelenting assault on ocean resources through over-exploitation, misuse and climate change.
“The ocean rivals the wealth of the world’s richest countries, but it is being allowed to sink to the depths of a failed economy,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International. “As responsible shareholders, we cannot seriously expect to keep recklessly extracting the ocean’s valuable assets without investing in its future.”
According to the report, more than two-thirds of the annual value of the ocean relies on healthy conditions to maintain its annual economic output. Collapsing fisheries, mangrove deforestation as well as disappearing corals and seagrass are threatening the marine economic engine that secures lives and livelihoods around the world.
“Being able to quantify both the annual and asset value of the world’s oceans shows us what’s at stake in hard numbers; economically and environmentally. We hope this serves as a call for business leaders and policymakers to make wiser, more calculated decisions when it comes to shaping the future of our collective ocean economy," said Douglas Beal, Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group.
Research presented in the report demonstrates that the ocean is changing more rapidly than at any other point in millions of years. At the same time, growth in human population and reliance on the sea makes restoring the ocean economy and its core assets a matter of global urgency.
How the ocean would rank among the world's economies. (© WWF)