United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

The Oceans Economy: Opportunities and Challenges for Small Island Developing States

Publication Year: 2014 Publisher: UNCTAD


The fact that oceans and seas (as well as rivers, waterways and estuaries) matter for sustainable de-velopment is undeniable. Two thirds of the earth’s surface is covered by water. The oceans1 are widely accepted as the incubator of all life forms. They are a fundamental yet delicate part of the Earth’s biosphere and essential to sustaining life on the planet. Oceans serve a variety of purposes, all critical to the suste-nance and preservation of human life. Among other things, they provide food and minerals, generate oxygen, absorb greenhouse gases (GHG), mitigate climate change, influence weather patterns and tem-peratures and serve as highways for human transport and sea-borne trade.