The connection between ocean change and climate change is obvious for people who depend on the ocean for their livelihood. The change in the ocean is reflected in shifts in weather patterns, extreme ocean and weather events, rising ocean temperatures, and reduced fisheries and livelihoods. Islanders and coastal residents live on the frontline of ocean change and climate change.

Ambitious targets to reduce emissions are essential for climate change and ocean health, but by themselves are insufficient. Reducing other human-induced stresses on the ocean and restoring natural marine ecosystems is also essential to build resilience. That means reducing all kinds of pollution (not just plastics) and restoring natural habitats on the coasts and in our oceans. Both funding and commitment will be necessary to deliver a sustainable ocean environment and contribute to a positive climate outcome.

From the largest coastal cities to the smallest villages, there are many ways people can increase their natural resilience to climate change. To succeed, it will require reorganising how natural coastal ‘capital’ is spent, how risks are managed, and how activities are incentivised or de-incentivised.

Fiji has stepped forward to champion the Ocean and Climate Change Action Group. This Group will work with existing networks to improve ocean health through climate action.  It will also look for financial mechanisms to enable a ‘blue carbon’ approach – restoring the ability of coastal ecosystems to store carbon in mangroves, coastal swamps and seagrass.

increase in ocean surface water acidity compared to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution

3 millimeters average annual rate of sea level rise

0.11°C sea surface temperature rise per decade between 1971 and 2010

Case Study: Coral Communities: Building Socio-Ecological Resilience to Coral Reef Degradation in the Islands of the Western Indian Ocean (2017)
of the increased atmospheric heat from human activity emissions is absorbed by the oceans