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Climate impacts on the ocean are making the Sustainable Development Goals a moving target travelling away from us


Singh, GG and Hilmi, N and Bernhardt, JR and Cisneros Montemayor, AM and Cashion, M and Ota, Y and Acar, S and Brown, JM and Cottrell, R and Djoundourian, S and Gonzalez-Espinosa, PC and Lam, V and Marshall, N and Neumann, B and Pascal, N and Reygondeau, G and Rocklov, J and Safa, A and Virto, LR and Cheung, W, Climate impacts on the ocean are making the Sustainable Development Goals a moving target travelling away from us, People and Nature, 1, (3) pp. 317-330. ISSN 2575-8314 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1002/pan3.26


  1. Climate change is impacting marine ecosystems and their goods and services in diverse ways, which can directly hinder our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set out under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  2. Through expert elicitation and a literature review, we find that most climate change effects have a wide variety of negative consequences across marine ecosystem services, though most studies have highlighted impacts from warming and consequences of marine species.
  3. Climate change is expected to negatively influence marine ecosystem services through global stressors—such as ocean warming and acidification—but also by amplifying local and regional stressors such as freshwater runoff and pollution load.
  4. Experts indicated that all SDGs would be overwhelmingly negatively affected by these climate impacts on marine ecosystem services, with eliminating hunger being among the most directly negatively affected SDG.
  5. Despite these challenges, the SDGs aiming to transform our consumption and production practices and develop clean energy systems are found to be least affected by marine climate impacts. These findings represent a strategic point of entry for countries to achieve sustainable development, given that these two goals are relatively robust to climate impacts and that they are important pre-requisite for other SDGs.
  6. Our results suggest that climate change impacts on marine ecosystems are set to make the SDGs a moving target travelling away from us. Effective and urgent action towards sustainable development, including mitigating and adapting to climate impacts on marine systems are important to achieve the SDGs, but the longer this action stalls the more distant these goals will become.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Sustainable Development Goals, marine, climate change, expert elicitation, marine ecosystem services, ocean sustainability
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Cottrell, R (Dr Richard Cottrell)
ID Code:150410
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-06-14
Last Modified:2022-06-15

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