Empowering the people – how young influencers have a large role to play in achieving SDG 14

Student Submission by Dahlia Paneth

SDG 14 is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. This SDG is often overlooked or deemed less important in relation to the other SDGs. However, it cannot be underestimated how important maintaining our oceans ecosystems is.

I have always had a deep love for the ocean and feel my best when I am floating in the middle of nowhere. For years now I have followed ‘Brinkley Davies’ on Instagram. Her mission is to spread awareness of marine life and habitat protection through sharing her diving experiences and incredible footage close up with marine wildlife. She works very closely with the Balu Blue Foundation which is a wildlife action network. On their social media they post constant updates related to various ecosystems, specifically in the Ningaloo region in Western Australia, but also nation-wide. For example, their most recent post was about coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.

I think people like Brinkley are the secret weapon the government needs to spread awareness and create real change for SDG14. The average young person is not getting involved in government initiatives or signing up to ‘clean up the ocean days’, but they are on social media. And seeing genuine, beautiful people like Brinkley spread information organically, enables young people to learn about this issue and want to get involved.

To achieve SDG14 by 2030, the government needs to partner with people like Brinkley to work in conjunction with their official programs.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an organisation endorsed by the UN Environmental Programme and many other intergovernmental organisations. Their goals are to end overfishing, restore fish stocks, protect eco-systems, and eliminate illegal fishing. The MSC have many programs to combat this issue, specifically the renowned MSC blue fish tick label. If this label is on a fish product, it means that the fish is certifiably sustainable. The MSC also work hard to increase ocean literacy which is “an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean”.

The MSC should pay Brinkley and others like her to promote their work, spreading awareness to every young Australian.  This way, the government is not only investing in on the ground solutions, but also long-term education to prevent this problem from becoming an unbreakable cycle. In 2019. New Zealand hosted their first conference on tourism and SDGs. It became clear that there is a “need for diverse actors to work in partnership to achieve the SDGs.” It is clear that including local stakeholders is crucial to achieving this SDG. It cannot be a government exclusive initiative, but rather must be grassroots led solutions. It is clear that local actors need to “integrate sectoral issues”.  Official programs to create protected water zones are very expensive. By endorsing young, influential people, costs are cut down but the message is spread quicker and in a more digestible manner.

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