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We need to combat climate change and its impacts to achieve SDG 14

The “biosphere”, a.k.a. life or biodiversity, is our planet’s unique characteristic and different from all other known planets. As life began in the ocean, we believe that a key to understanding the fundamental role that life plays in determining Earth System state lies in the study of the primitive plankton ecosystems.

Today is the last day of the UN Oceans Conference and together with our colleagues at the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, CMEC, located at the Danish Natural History Museum within the University of Copenhagen, we focus on oceans and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. This time it is about how we need to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts to achieve SDG 14.

Professor Katherine Richardson is one of SDSN Northern Europe’s Co-Chairs. She is highly involved in the work at CMEC. Our colleagues at the Center focus on to elucidate how ocean biodiversity (not only specific organisms but also ecosystem structure) impacts carbon flow in the ocean and how changes occurring in the ocean by changing the plankton biosphere create feedbacks on the climate system.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 can only be achieved through management of the human activities that lead to direct or indirect input of materials and substances to the ocean as well as the direct removal of materials and ocean habitat destruction. Developing a framework for such management requires a more thorough understanding of the role of plankton ecosystems in global element cycling and – not least – how human caused climate change and other activities (including fishing and habitat modification) influence ecosystem structure and function.

PHOTO: Phytoplankton collected from a net tow in the North Sea. Photo credit: Norman Nichols.

A particularly exciting current project, Modelling the biodiversity boundary, aims to identify how the structure of ecosystems (both on land and in the sea) is impacted by climate change. This is a collaborative study together with UNEP-WCMC in Cambridge and supported by the KR foundation in Denmark. Climate and biodiversity are identified as the two “core” boundaries in the Earth System and there are clear interactions between climate and the biosphere. The research conducted at the CMEC demonstrates the intimate link between SDGs 13: ”Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”  and SDG 14 “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. The climate SDG must be achieved to achieve SDG 14.

Read more about SDG 13 >>
Read more about SDG 14 >>
Read more about the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate >>
The Madingley Model >>
UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre >>

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