Science & Technology in Action

15th Edition

Sustainable development goals and the marine


In 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They address many topics including water, energy, climate, oceans, urbanisation, transport, science and technology. A number of goals relate directly to the marine.

Available downloads

The full lessons along with a supporting toolkit are available in three different formats, A4, A3 and as a Powerpoint deck.

Lesson excerpt

It specifies goals to be achieved by the year 2030. While they are not legally binding, all countries adopted them. For details see: and

Several of the UN (United Nations) goals overlap. They address many topics including water, energy, climate, oceans, urbanisation, transport, science and technology. Associated with the 17 goals are 169 targets. A number of goals relate directly to the marine, particularly:

• Goal 14. Life Below Water: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development (

• GOAL 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns (

Global and national targets

Each of the goals has several associated targets and indicators. The targets detail what should be achieved by specified dates. In all there are 169 targets. The indicators specify what should be measured to show (or ‘indicate’) the extent to which a target has been achieved. In all there are 232 distinct indicators.

Each of the countries involved undertook to devise a national plan for the achievement of the goals.

In April 2018 the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, launched Ireland’s Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018 – 2020. It specified which government department was mainly responsible for each target. The plan may be found here:

True or False?

  1. Sustainability Goals 12 and 14 most directly relate to fishing and the marine. true
  2. The circular economy helps reduce waste. true
  3. Ocean acidification is indicated by increased pH. false
  4. Fossil fuel subsidies are good for the environment. false
  5. Fishing for Litter helps prevent and reduce marine pollution. true
  6. Ireland’s SDG National Implementation Plan was launched in 2015. false
  7. Responsibility for achieving the targets of the 17 SDGs is shared between several government departments. true
  8. The aim of the Champions programme is to engage the wider community in addressing the SDGs. true
  9. Each of the SDGs has specific targets and indicators. Targets are specific steps towards the achievement of the overall Goal. Indicators are designed to measure progress. true
  10. Eutrophication is caused by too much oxygen in water. false

Glossary of terms

the number and variety of organisms found within a specified geographic region
the husbandry of animals and plants in an aquatic environment
the enrichment of natural waters by nutrients (nitrates and phosphates in particular) leading to excessive growth of algae and deoxygenation of water
natural resources
resources that occur naturally, such as wood, minerals, fresh water etc.
a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution; pH values are generally in the range 0 to 14, where 0 is a strong acid, 7 is neutral and 14 is a strong base. Negative values are possible; commercial HCl has a pH of about -1.1. Saturated NaOH has a pH of about 15.
collecting as an end product
in a way that considers the whole picture; in an integrated way
ways of identifying if specific targets have been achieved
maximum sustainable yield
harvesting at a level that give the maximum output while keeping the resource at its maximum replacement level
fishing at levels that prevent the fish population from reaching the maximum replacemnt level
per capita
per head
money granted (e.g. by the state) to support an industry
specific results to be achieved
the marine
oceans or seas
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organisation founded in 1945. It now has 193 Member States. Its principles and purposes are set out in its founding Charter.