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COP26: what news for the ocean?

Elisa Morgera and Mitchell Lennan

One Ocean Hub, University of Strathclyde, UK

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  • 2021,
  • COP26,
  • ocean-climate nexus,
  • marine ecosystems,
  • coral reefs,
  • Paris Agreement
Target Group
  • Policy makers,
  • Researchers
  • English
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The significance of the ocean-climate nexus is emphasized, addressing climate change's impact on the ocean and its importance for human rights' protection.

Published on 23rd November 2021, this blog¬†discusses the importance of addressing the connection between the ocean and climate change, known as the “ocean-climate nexus, and its importance from a human rights perspective. Human rights such as life, health, food, water, and culture depend on a healthy ocean, which provides essential resources and contributes to freshwater renewal and oxygen production. Addressing climate change’s impact on marine ecosystems and their benefits to humanity is, therefore, crucial for human rights.

One key concern is the ocean acidification, resulting from excess CO2 emissions dissolving in seawater. This poses risks to marine life, especially species that rely on calcified shells, such as coral reefs. Ocean acidification can also affect marine food chains, impacting human rights related to food and health. COP26 acknowledged the need to protect ocean ecosystems and integrate ocean-based actions across all areas of work under the Convention. However, more concrete actions are necessary to protect human rights, particularly of vulnerable communities like Indigenous peoples and small-scale fishers. Public participation and consideration of children’s rights are essential to effectively address the ocean-climate nexus. Future efforts should prioritize ocean-based research, fair research partnerships, and cooperation to mitigate climate change’s effects on the ocean and protect human rights.