Life Below Water: Assessing EU policy tools for SDG 14



Xavier Le Den

Market Director, Strategic Sustainability Consulting
T: +32 497 89 83 58

Karin Attström

T: +45 5161 8178
M: +45 5161 8178

In recent years, the EU has established a significant ‘SDG 14 toolbox’. It contains nearly 600 policy tools (170 at EU level and 417 at national level) that together form a coherent framework to improve ocean restoration and better life below water.

Together with partners Deloitte and Wageningen University, Ramboll evaluated how and to what extent the policy tools put in place by the EU and its Member States since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, have been relevant, effective, efficiency coherent, and have added value.

The work was carried out through three interrelated work streams: 

  • Assessment of the current state of play
  • Identification and analysis of gaps
  • Recommendations for concrete actions

While the assessment does not identify significant gaps in the EU policy framework, most SDG 14 targets are currently not on track to be met by the agreed deadlines.

Ramboll and partners concluded that in some areas, tangible results and impact have yet to emerge and some negative trends are far from being reversed, for example on ocean acidification or pollution of all kinds.

A multitude of sources

To arrive at these conclusions, the assessment was based on a multitude of sources and input-givers: Desk-research, quantitative assessment of existing indicators and data sources, in-depth assessments, supplemented by around 70 interviews and online surveys with European and International Institutions, governments and policy stakeholders, research bodies and experts, NGOs, industry associations.

The assessment supported the EU to position itself in view of the “2020 super year for the oceans”, and it will serve the EU’s contribution and demonstration of “ocean leadership”. 

Furthermore, the results of the study contributed to the identification of future actions under the EU’s international ocean governance agenda to work towards a better state of the oceans.

The final report concluding the work was published in May 2021.


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