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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement11 May 2021Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

New report: EU’s performance on the UN sustainable development goal 14

Ocean wave ©EpicStockMedia /
Ocean wave ©EpicStockMedia /

The Von der Leyen Commission has made the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 an integral part of the EU’s political priorities. One of them (SDG 14, ‘Life under water’) is about conserving and sustainably using the oceans and seas. It is at the core of the EU international ocean governance agenda.

Today, the Commission releases a comprehensive assessment of the contribution of EU and its Member States to achieving SDG 14. This study is the first of its kind. It  looks both at quantitative indicators as well as at the quality of progress achieved.

The EU has established a significant ‘SDG 14 toolbox’. It contains nearly 600 policy tools (170 at EU level and 417 at national level) that together form a coherent framework. The efficiency of this policy framework is furthermore backed up by considerable financial investments from the EU and its Member States, for example to strengthen ocean knowledge. On this basis, the EU and its Member States are taking strong action to improve the state of the marine environment and can look back at a number of achievements. This includes the restoration of certain fish stocks and the establishment of marine protected areas.

However, while the assessment does not identify significant gaps in the EU policy framework, most SDG 14 targets are currently not on track to be met by the agreed deadlines. In some areas, tangible results and impact have yet to emerge and some negative trends are far from being reversed, for example on ocean acidification or pollution of all kinds.

Against this background, we must continue EU action and further step it up. More than ever, collaboration and coordination across sectors and boundaries are key to success. This is even more evident, as we tap into the potential of the blue economy to ensure a sustainable recovery after the COVID crisis.

In the run-up to the next UN Ocean Conference in 2022, the EU will use the insights of the assessment to review its ocean agenda and further strengthen its role in international ocean governance.

More information

Assessment of the existing EU policy tools in the field of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 and other ocean-related agenda 2030 targets - Final report

Delivering on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – A comprehensive approach