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How much are the world’s oceans worth?

The almost incalculably large figure comes from the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). The WWF is an international non-governmental organization that campaigns on the conservation, research and restoration of the environment.

To promote the importance of the oceans and seas and the importance that they play to the environment and the social good, the WWF has issued a report that indicates the waters of the world are worth $24 trillion, making them the seventh largest economy on the planet. The report is called “Reviving the Oceans Economy: The Case for Action—2015.”

The figure was derived at with assistance from the Boston Consulting Group together with Professor Hoegh-Guldberg of the Global Change Institute in Australia. The team behind the project used techniques based on “natural capital” to reach their figures, following on from similar method deployed for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which was a global environmental assessment report issued a decade earlier. The accuracy of such calculations is difficult to verify; with WWF the primary point is through the publicity and the campaign.

One of the objectives of the report and associated campaign is to help make politicians and business leaders see the oceans as a common arena and an area requiring joint investment in order to maintain sustainability. As the report states, pinning a value on the oceans: “brings into focus the economic value our oceans represent for this planet, as the future of humanity depends on their healthy living conditions.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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