Goal 14: Life Below Water
Lao PDR’s diverse freshwater ecosystem provides food and livelihood security but is also under threat. The country’s freshwater systems harbour more than 481 fish species, 37 amphibian species, 7 species of crabs and 10 species of shrimp. More species are being discovered regularly.
The Lao population relies mainly on subsistence fisheries. While the production of inland aquaculture is increasing, it remains less important than capture fisheries for food security. The fisheries support businesses, ranging from shops and food stalls that supply fishing families to boat builders and fishing gear suppliers. The total area of water resources for capture fisheries in Lao PDR is believed to be more than 1.2 million ha, while the fisheries value is estimated to be around 7 percent of the country’s GDP. The main threat to fisheries and aquaculture comes from activities in other sectors, such as irrigated agriculture, domestic water supply, wastewater disposal and industrial use. These affect the aquatic environment and fisheries in many ways. Developments in other sectors will need to take an integrated and responsible approach to fisheries and mitigate and manage the negative impacts as far as possible.
With growing population and ecosystem changes, the country’s per-capita volume of freshwater resources shows a declining trend. Lao PDR’s decline in per-capita volume of internal renewable water resources is among the fastest in the region, having decreased by 34 percent from 1990 to 2014. Revenues from the Nam Theun-Hinboun hydropower project are financing integrated water resource management in certain areas; such approaches will need scaling up. An improved and integrated management of water resources will need to extend across many sectors: logging, mining and plantation projects (which affect land and watershed management), energy use and export patterns, water consumption, and factors relating to climate and the hydrological cycle.
The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counterbalance the effects of climate change.
Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. However, today we are seeing 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks overexploited, reaching below the level at which they can produce sustainable yields.
Oceans also absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, and we are seeing a 26 percent rise in ocean acidification since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Marine pollution, an overwhelming majority of which comes from land-based sources, is reaching alarming levels, with an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter to be found on every square kilometre of ocean.
The SDGs aim to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Enhancing conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources through international law will also help mitigate some of the challenges facing our oceans.