Mat, Lora and Mike, with Bruce Maycock of Curtin University, Australia, have called for an equivalent effort to the ‘Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)’, to gather global evidence and to promote collaborative action on behalf of the global ocean and human health and wellbeing.
The Perspectives paper in the British Ecological Society‘s journal People and Nature reviews the current state of research, policy and action linking oceans with human health and wellbeing. Working with Dr Will Stahl-Timmins the ‘tangled net’ figure illustrates the complex interconnections, both positive and negative, between human health and activities in and around the seas and ocean.
Despite the growing evidence base the authors argue that a more comprehensive understanding of the current and future threats, risks, benefits and opportunities afforded by interactions between humans and the marine environment is still needed. This is of particular importance to inform more sustainable future relationships between humans and oceans. They recommend that future research on the seas, ocean and human health, must ‘provide greater understanding of how to better manage interacting stressors, as well as exposures to actual mixtures, while capturing the potential for co‐benefits available through intelligent management’.
The authors argue that to acheive sustainability and maximize equitable health gain ‘there must be a well thought out and clearly articulated vision of what would be an acceptable relationship between humans and the ocean in the future’. The establishment of a panel similar to the ‘Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)’, to gather global evidence and to promote collaborative action on behalf of the ‘Global Ocean and Human Health and Well‐being’ might help guide decision making as we near the Decade of the Ocean for Sustainable Development (2021–2031).