A framework for assessing and disclosing ocean practices

The Sustainable Ocean Principles

The Sustainable Ocean Principles aim at promoting the well-being of the ocean for current and future generations, and to emphasize the shared responsibility of businesses to take necessary actions to secure a healthy and productive ocean. Companies signing on to the Sustainable Ocean Principles commit to assess their impact on the ocean and integrate them into their overall strategy. The principles provide a framework for responsible business practices in the ocean. They build upon and supplement the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

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The Practical Guidances

The guidances complement and operationalize the UN Global Compact Sustainable Ocean Principles for specific industry sectors. For each principle, the guidances provide a set of actions which can be implemented, exemplified by inspirational good practices. Each guidance includes an analysis of the sustainability challenges and opportunities of the sector. Practical Guidances for additional sectors are currently being developed.

NOTE: The Practical Guidances map current regulations, business standards and best and emerging practices for a particular sector. Under the auspices of the UN Global Compact Sustainable Ocean Business Action Platform, the guidances have been mainly developed by companies operating within the sector. The guidances are dynamic working documents. They will be reviewed on a regular basis to follow new legislation, best business practices, higher standards and market innovations. Input, feedback and comments from all stakeholders are welcome. If you would like to contribute, please contact: ocean@unglobalcompact.org.

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In order for aquaculture to be a viable solution for meeting future food demands, and as a result of operating in common waters, the sector has a strong focus on social license to operate. This includes responsible and transparent operations to demonstrate its environmental and social performance. The farmed seafood value chain is complex and involves many levels, thus it is important to ensure transparency of operations and contracting, emphasized in this guidance document. Often, the industry operations are under local, national and international legislation. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the complexity of the legal landscape.

The scope of this document is aquaculture, defined here as farming of aquatic resources for human consumption. This does not include algae for fish feed or dietary supplements. This guidance is mainly intended to be applied to offshore and coastal open-pen production facilities focusing on seawater.

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The global community is challenged with meeting a growing demand for fish as an important source of protein, and other macro- and micro-nutrients, while simultaneously ensuring the sustainability of harvested stocks. Sustainable mariculture and marine capture fisheries could supply over six times more food than they do today (364 million metric tons of animal protein). This represents more than two-thirds of the edible meat that the FAO estimates will be needed to feed the future global population.

The scope of this document is marine capture fisheries, defined as the sum (or range) of all activities to harvest and process a given fish resource from the ocean. The guidance is addressed to all stakeholders operating throughout marine fishery value chains.

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The guidance in this document has a strong focus on offshore wind, which is currently the most utilized and mature power generation technology in the ocean. This guidance is also applicable to less mature technologies, such as wave, tidal and floating solar, where potential is recognized, and development is encouraged. These add diverse solutions for clean sustainable Ocean Renewable Energy (ORE) to the diverse communities and economies that exist in or by our ocean.

The guidance outlined herein has relevance to all activities related to: (1) The characterization of the ocean, ocean-atmosphere interface, and atmosphere over the ocean for the purpose of developing ORE; the construction and operation of ORE projects (2) The decommissioning of ORE projects; and (3) the manufacturing, shipping, transport, and logistics handling of components, parts, personnel, or elements of ORE, including the supply chain; in both the coastal and offshore areas of the global ocean.

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Corporate Finance Report


Oil and Gas (O&G) operations are capital intensive and generally heavily regulated, both nationally and internationally. Because of the potential risks to human life and the environment associated with O&G operations, O&G industry organizations have produced guidelines or sets of best practices in countries where regulations may be incomplete or developing,. The guidance is mapping global guidelines and practices to help the sector implement the Sustainable Ocean Principles.

The scope of this document is all activities related to the exploration, production, processing, transport and commercialization of O&G products in the ocean.
At the end of 2020, the SBTi (Science Based Targets Initiative) will issue a guidance for Oil & Gas company emissions reduction targets to be aligned with the level of transformation required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. This edition of the Practical Guidance for Oil and Gas Activities does not include any specific references to emission reduction targets within that industry.

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Corporate Finance Report


Ports constitute critical infrastructure that sits at the land-water interface through which a large number of activities are conducted. Ports are crucial linkages for supply chains and global markets and are central to many ocean-based activities.

This Practical Guidance seeks to demonstrate a range of aspirational possibilities for all ports and serves as a prompt to find ways to overcome barriers to achieve greater sustainability performance. The Guidance has been structured along six themes. Three are derived directly from the Sustainable Ocean Principles: Ocean Health and Productivity, Governance and Engagement, and Data and Transparency. Given the complexity and the many interrelations of the port sector, the consultative group extended the focus of this report to include three additional themes that are of particular relevance to ports: Climate Resilience, Just Energy Transition, and Finance.

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The seaweed industries can deliver healthy food and low-carbon feed for aquaculture and farm animals. Seaweed extracts can be used for many applications and materials. It can also capture and store carbon dioxide to limit climate change, and the sustainable expansion of the industry can provide new sources of revenue for coastal communities.

The scope of this document is the seaweed industry, the production and use of macroalgae for any purpose. The guidance outlined has relevance for activities along the entire value chain, with a dual focus on both wild harvest and cultivation. As the seaweed industry is at the start of a growth phase in many parts of the world, these Practical Guidances will be reviewed and, if necessary, updated on a regular basis. It should be noted that due to the huge range of contexts within which the seaweed industry operates, there is no one-size fits all solution and different reporting regimes will be better suited to different contexts. As an industry, it is crucial to undertake both detailed environmental and social impact assessments when considering the identified reporting regimes, benchmarks, and best practices.

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Transporting more than 80 per cent of the world’s goods, the shipping industry is highly regulated foremost by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and governed by a complex legal and contractual landscape beyond just national levels. In addition, international conventions regulate discharges of pollutants and waste from ships and help lower the risk of vessels moving invasive aquatic species over long distances.

This guidance compiles and sets directions for the shipping industry to align its activities with the sector’s best practices across environmental, social and governance issues. The scope of this guidance primarily applies to ship owners, ship operators, ship managers and charterers whose interests lie in operating, owning and managing ships for the transportation of goods. Elements of this guidance may also apply to the ship-shore interface linking shipping to ports, terminals and harbours and onshore business entities.



The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set targets to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50 per cent by 2050 compared with 2008. Companies in the sector are also setting decarbonization objectives for the operations and value chains. Zero-emission vessels and fuels need to be in operation as early as 2030 to meet the IMO’s 2050 ambition. In order to achieve these objectives, there will need to be new ship designs, propulsion systems, and alternative fuels that will be integrated into new ships. This will provide challenges but also opportunities to shipyards. Shipyards also need to drive or at least adapt to the development of autonomous vessels. Shipyards are where new technology is implemented in practice and will require new management systems, new capabilities, new technology and new business models that ensure building, operation and maintenance of ships in a sustainable manner. In addition, shipyards and their value chain have a responsibility, to protect the environment; to respect human and labour rights; to be transparent and report publicly.

The guidance focuses on construction and repair yards. This includes companies that build ships, ship hulls, parts of ships, perform ship maintenance, drydocks or convert ships. This includes shipyards that build, maintain and report marine structures for other marine and energy sectors, like rigs, semi-submersibles, Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) and Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) units, ocean fish farms and similar structures.


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