Narrative to Protect a Rapidly Changing Ocean

In 2020 a group of international marine scientists came together to develop and evolve the ‘narrative to protect a rapidly changing ocean’. The resulting paper published in the journal Aquatic Conservation, sets out six key themes for an ocean narrative and includes an appendix on the agreed fundamentals of what the ocean does for humankind.

The full paper can be found here.

On this page we provide assets to help organisations and institutions to adopt the narratives into their work.

You can download and use our diagrams here.

Everything in the ocean is connected. The ocean and land are connected. The ocean and climate are connected. Humans and the ocean are connected. We cannot keep ignoring the ocean and expect to thrive.

Narrative Themes

Authored by leading marine scientists from around the world, with inputs from others in the planning stages, the paper expresses the fundamental concern that we do not adequately recognise the role of the ocean on our planet and in the wellbeing and survival of humanity. Until we do, the outlook for our world is bleak.

The paper sets out six narratives which should inform how we think and communicate about the ocean and the decisions that we make arising from this. They are:

  1. All life is dependent on the ocean – We depend on the ocean for all life on Earth; it nurtures us, but we have done woefully little to nurture it
  2. By harming the ocean, we harm ourselves – All ocean activities need to be carried out more responsibly with the curtailment of damaging actions that affect current and future values
  3. By protecting the ocean, we protect ourselves – Humanity’s reliance on the ocean means we must protect it to protect ourselves
  4. Humans, the ocean, biodiversity, and climate are inextricably linked – The ocean modulates the climate and humans influence the state of the ocean and its biodiversity – what is needed is joined-up action and solutions
  5. Ocean and climate action must be undertaken together – If you are not factoring in ocean impacts and solutions, you are not effectively addressing climate breakdown
  6. Reversing ocean change needs action now – We have no choice. We need to act now or risk closing off future options for action.

The Appendix of the paper outlines what we currently know about the role of the ocean at an Earth system level – relative to its major functions – and the changes that are evidenced.

The statements which can be made about the ocean drawn down from that work and summarised into briefer, more accessible form are available here.

There is also a style guide you can use in relation to using the ocean singular.