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SDG14: Life Below Water

SDG14 calls for a wholesale reduction of negative impacts on the world’s oceans and the protection of fragile marine ecosystems, including the widespread implementation of marine protected areas.

The world’s oceans are home to a rich diversity of plant and animal life and a source of food and marine resources that drive economies. Climate change and pollution are changing ocean dynamics – their temperature, chemistry, currents and ability to support life. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.

How is this relevant to mining and metals?

Mining uses the oceans for a wide range of purposes including shipping products to international markets, subsea shallow mining, submarine tailings or waste rock disposal and deep-sea mining (still in its infancy). Mining companies can contribute to ocean sustainability by identifying marine-related impacts and mitigation strategies, understanding the dependence of local communities on marine resources that might be adversely impacted by mining and contributing to the protection and conservation of the oceans and seas.

What companies need to know to manage impacts or make a positive contribution

  1. How operations impact the oceans, including the construction and operation of port facilities, shipping and discharges from cleaning cargo holds, and tailings or waste rock disposal.
  2. Understand relevant current and future legislation relating to oceans in operational areas, including marine protected areas.
  3. How communities local to marine-based activities may be adversely impacted, for example if fishing or other forms of livelihoods are disrupted.

Industry action may involve:

  • Embracing a precautionary approach to mining or waste disposal in marine areas.
  • Collaborating with relevant authorities to establish conservation areas and marine reserves.
  • Contributing to the development of multi-stakeholder coastal zone management plans disposing of mining tailings and waste according to international good practice standards.
  • Assessing social and environmental impacts on marine ecosystems and species, protected areas, or marine-based livelihoods.
  • Minimising ocean-borne pollution from product shipping, marine logistics and port construction and operation.