Ocean and Coastal Sustainability

The Sustainable Oceans and Coasts National Strategy 2021-2030 has officially launched!  Download it here.




Australian oceans and coasts are threatened by the fragmented way we manage and govern the ecological and social processes that connect them; we need a clear path forward to ensure that these areas are healthy and resilient. Future Earth Australia has created a National Ten Year Strategy for Sustainable Ocean and Coasts, which outlines clear, actionable strategies for achieving healthy and resilient oceans and coasts for all of Australia.

This Strategy outlines the steps we need to transform how we think about, govern, and protect oceans and coasts across Australia. Importantly, we have taken a systems approach to transforming oceans and coasts, as many sectors will need to work together to achieve our goal: social services, tourism, Traditional Owners, industry, land use experts, ocean and coastal researchers, and decision makers from all levels of government. By undertaking a bottom up, country wide consultation process and incorporating ideas and knowledge into a Ten-Year Strategy, we have provided a blueprint for the national transformational change that Australia’s oceans and coasts need.

Australia has a significant and long-standing capability in ocean and coastal sustainability research. The start of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is an opportune time to deliver more systemic and integrated approaches to managing our coasts and oceans, thinking across scales and across sectors, including synergies and trade-offs, and addressing interdependent challenges more effectively.

How does it work?

Following the successful model we used in creating our Sustainable Cities and Regions Ten-Year Strategy, Future Earth Australia assembled an Expert Working Group of leading ocean and coastal researchers and practitioners across the country (view members here) to steer the strategic direction of the process. A scoping workshop was held with key stakeholders at the Shine Dome in Canberra on March 11th 2020 to begin envisioning how knowledge could support Australia’s transformation to sustainable ocean and coastal systems. Findings from this workshop are now available at this link.



Next, a series of consultation workshops were held around Australia to gather information about how Australians from all ocean and coastal sectors view sustainability, and how they think a sustainable future for these sectors can be achieved. A series of consultation outcome papers were produced to synthesise the workshop outcomes. Attendees of these workshops represented a broad cross-section of ocean and coastal users, including the research sector, all levels of government, industry and business, Traditional Owners and managers across Country, and civil society and community. The consultation process for this strategy was generously supported by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. These publications are available on our publications page, or by clicking the image below. 



The Sustainable Oceans and Coasts National Strategy 2021-2030 was written in early 2021 by combining the findings from the consultation workshops with expert guidance and advice from the Expert Working Group. We finalised an exposure draft in April and then undertook a second round of valorisation via two high-level roundtables, conducted in-person in Canberra and virtually. Attendees represented senior experts across government, philanthropy, industry, and the non-profit sector, who provided high-level feedback and assessments to improve the draft. 

This feedback was invaluable, and helped support the formulation of the final strategy document. The strategy includes seven recommendations that provide support systems in achieving sustainable oceans and coasts for Australia. Each recommendation is accompanied by an implementation roadmap, itself consisting of tangible actions that can be taken to achieve these, ideas for the design and implementation phases of these actions, and further ideas relating to the monitoring and evaluation of the successes or learning opportunities that arise. There is also a description of the anticipated outcomes of these actions, and a suggestion of who might be responsible for delivering each of these activities, acknowledging that leaders from all sectors must play an active role in shaping and owning how they design and deliver sustainable oceans and coasts for Australia.

Strategy Launch and Implementation

We were pleased to launch the Sustainable Oceans and Coasts National Strategy 2021-2030 at the SRI2021 Congress in Brisbane. This virtual event featured presentations from the FEA Secretariat on the strategy and its recommendations, as well as a number of guest speakers. Read more about the launch here.

Since the launch, we have been working to socialise and implement elements of the strategy. As part of this process, we have been invited to a number of events to discuss the strategy to varied audiences.

One of these events was organised by Ocean Decade Australia and held at Questacon in Canberra. Our Director Dr Tayanah O'Donnell was invited to speak at a stakeholder briefing that brought together a variety of high-level experts across the ocean and coastal space to discuss their various efforts to promote a sustainable future for Australia’s oceans. Read more about this event here.

We also presented at the 2021 Coast to Coast Conference in Cairns. Our team gave two plenary presentations to over 300 conference delegates, including a presentation on the National Strategy and its recommendations. We also held an implementation workshop on the first day of the conference that was well-attended and generated great interest in the Strategy. As a result of this socialisation, the conference delegates voted to formally endorse our Strategy and urged the Australian government to adopt and implement its recommendations. Read more about this event here.

How can I participate?

We welcome contributions from any and all stakeholders in ocean and coastal sustainability. This includes everyone: practitioners, decision-makers, researchers, Indigenous groups, industry members, knowledge brokers, NGOs, and community organisations.

We are now in the implementation phase of the strategy following its launch. If you are interested to learn how you or your organisation might get involved in implementing this strategy, please get in touch at futureearthaustralia@science.org.au.