GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – A new tool, the Ocean Health Index, to help monitor the delicate and important relationship between the world’s oceans and people has been launched after its initial growth phase in Geneva.
The project involves several organizations and was led by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the University of British Columbia’s Sea Around Us, Conservation International (CI), National Geographic Society, the New England Aquarium and the Pacific Life Foundation.
The project was incubated in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Oceans, and launched officially 20 August with the council’s endorsement. The WEF notes that drawing “on data from 50 distinct biophysical and socio-economic indicators, the Ocean Health Index is the first measurement that aims to assess the ocean’s capacity to provide long-term benefits for human well-being by helping leaders, businesses and the public to identify the critical issues the ecosystem currently faces and how best to counter threats to its long-term sustainability.”
The need for it, according to CI, is easily understood once you consider the economic impact of it. It provides “natural services estimated at $21 trillion dollars a year. In a world of 7 billion people (and counting) it is the primary source of protein for 1 billion — and of livelihoods for 350 million more. Holding 97 percent of the planet’s water, the ocean moderates our global climate, protects shorelines and supplies the oxygen in every other breath we take.”
The index assesses 10 goals for a healthy ocean:
- Food provision
- Artisanal fishing opportunities
- Natural products
- Carbon storage
- Coastal protection
- Sense of place
- Coastal livelihoods and economies
- Tourism and recreation
- Clean waters
The ocean is then assigned a score from 0 to 100 for each of these goals, as well as an overall score, currently 60. The index also evaluates ocean health by country, with individual goal scores assigned to every nation with a shoreline.