UNESCO’s ‘State of Ocean Report, 2024

UNESCO’s ‘State of Ocean Report, 2024


Why in the News?   

The ‘State of Ocean Report, 2024’ released by UNESCO delivers important information on the status of the world’s oceans, highlighting the impact of climate change and human actions on these vital ecosystems. 

The report emphasises the critical shortage of data necessary for effectively addressing ocean crises and advancing carbon dioxide removal technologies. Vidar Helgesen, the executive secretary of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, highlights the urgent need to accelerate the research and data collection process.  

What is the UNESCO State of Ocean Report 2024? 

  • The report highlights the lack of detailed, comprehensive data for in-depth ocean research and observation. There is a pressing need for consistent and comprehensive data collection to track ocean temperature changes and their effects, which is crucial for addressing the challenge of maintaining healthy and resilient oceans. 
  • Between 1960 and 2023, the top 2,000 meters of the world’s oceans warmed at 32 ± 0.03 W/m². This rate has increased over the last twenty years to 0.66 ± 0.10 W/m². This warming pattern is anticipated to persist, leading to long-lasting alterations on timescales spanning centuries to millennia. 
  • Approximately 90% of the Earth’s energy imbalance is absorbed by the oceans, leading to a rise in the ocean heat content (OHC) within the top 2,000 meters. This escalation in OHC restricts the mixing of ocean layers, resulting in deoxygenation that adversely affects marine life, ecosystems, and coastal communities that depend on these oceanic resources. 
  • The report highlights an average rise in ocean acidification worldwide, with ocean pH levels falling by 0.017-0.027 units per decade since the late 1980s, but monitoring is limited to only 638 stations, indicating a need for more comprehensive data. 
  • Between 1993 and 2023, the average global sea level increased by approximately 4 mm per year, with a margin of error of 0.3 mm. Improved surveillance technologies are urgently needed to accurately monitor the rise in sea levels across different regions.
  • Since 2020, interest in mCDR technologies has increased due to research, startups, and funding from the U.S. and EU. These technologies focus on methods like changing seawater chemistry to boost plankton growth. However, their effectiveness and potential side effects remain uncertain. 
  • To improve carbon sequestration capabilities, there is growing interest in restoring coastal blue carbon ecosystems, including mangroves, seagrasses, and tidal marshes. However, the efficiency of these habitats in capturing carbon is still a topic of ongoing research. 

About UNESCO: 

  1. UNESCO, which stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is a distinct entity of the United Nations that aims to foster global peace through collaborative efforts in education, culture, and science. Founded in 1945, it comprises 193 member states and operates from its main office in Paris, France.
  2. The organisation aims to build a peaceful culture, eradicate poverty, promote sustainable development, and foster intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication, and information.
  3. UNESCO is committed to protecting cultural and natural heritage worldwide, which is considered an outstanding value to humanity. Improving the relationship between people and their environment. 
  4. It promotes quality education through collaboration among schools worldwide, fosters respect for all, builds a sense of belonging to common humanity and helps learners become responsible and active global citizens. Preserving valuable documentary heritage.
  5. Since its inception, India has been a founding member of UNESCO, consistently securing its place on the Executive Board since 1946. Tasked with collaborating with UNESCO, the Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU) operates within the Department of Secondary and Higher Education under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. 
  6. UNESCO safeguards global cultural and natural heritage, which is valuable to humanity. It enhances the bond between communities and their surroundings while fostering superior education by encouraging cooperation among schools worldwide. 

Way Forward: 

  • Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. Enhancing energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, and industry to reduce overall energy consumption. Developing technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other industrial sources. 
  • Promoting Carbon Sequestration: Planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Protecting and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes that capture and store significant amounts of carbon.
  • Reducing Other Climate Pollutants: Reducing methane emissions from agriculture, waste management, and energy production. Reducing black carbon (soot) emissions from diesel engines, residential cooking, and agricultural burning.
  • Sustainable Fisheries Management: Implementing policies to manage fish stocks sustainably, preventing overfishing, ensuring the resilience of marine species to temperature changes and establishing and enforcing MPAs to preserve vulnerable ecosystems and biodiversity, allowing them to adapt more naturally to changing temperatures. 
  • Infrastructure Adaptation: Building resilient infrastructure in coastal areas to withstand the impacts of rising sea temperatures and associated phenomena like sea level rise and increased storm intensity. Restoring coastal habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves, and wetlands can help buffer against the impacts of rising temperatures and sea levels. 
  • Technological and Research Initiatives: Exploring methods like solar radiation management and adding alkaline substances to oceans can mitigate climate change effects, requiring research to ascertain their impact and improved monitoring of oceanic parameters to guide policy. 


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Q. Discuss sea level rise due to climate change’s impact on coastal communities and the marine environment. What role do oceans play in mitigating climate change?

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