The ocean is one of the key pieces of Earth’s natural capital, providing “free” goods and services, including 50% of the oxygen we breathe, regulation of the global water cycle, and a significant portion of the food we eat.
Earlier this year, scientists at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), with help from researchers at the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute and the Boston Consulting Group, calculated the ocean’s economic value by quantifying the ocean’s assets — including goods and services like fisheries, tourism and coastal protections. We arrived at a valuation of $24 trillion, producing an annual income of some $2.5 trillion. When compared to the world’s top ten economies, the ocean ranks seventh.
But unlike any of the leading national economies, the ocean is a global commons, downstream from everywhere on the planet, and subject to the collective footprint of seven-plus billion people. As its shareholders, we have been making simultaneous and continuous withdrawals on this natural asset, with very little in the way of corresponding deposits.
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