The ABCs of Sustainable Development Goals and Sudan’s situation XV


Goal 14: Life below water

By Dr. Hassan Humeida

KIEL, GERMANY: The fourteenth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals is about life under water, and aims to preserve the oceans, seas, marine resources and other bodies of water and rationalize their use in a conscious manner to achieve the sustainable development set out by the United Nations to achieve by 2030.

The oceans, seas, lakes and rivers represent important habitats for underwater organisms, as they possess ecosystems with a stable balance and are considered an original home for multiple and diverse organisms that do not leave the depths of the seas and oceans compared to living land organisms that are in constant migration from one site to another, searching for food, reproduction, or safe shelter.

From bacteria to plants to animals, millions of species live in the oceans and seas and benefit from each other in a sometimes-symbiotic livelihood in a deep, dark, air-conditioned environment.

Oceans and seas represent about 70% of the Earth’s surface, and divide the world into different continents and regions. They absorb about 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions resulting from natural and human influences, which are hidden in the Earth’s outer atmosphere.

According to United Nations statistics, about three billion people depend directly or indirectly on the oceans, seas and marine resources for their livelihoods.

The oceans and seas represent important sources of income and of animal proteins since about 3.2 billion people depend on fish and seafood as a source of animal protein.

Millions of people work in fishing to earn a living for themselves and their families by catching fish and seafood. If one day the oceans and seas become increasingly polluted, not only the organisms that live there will be threatened with extinction, but also humans of all backgrounds.

One example of a harmful impact on the ocean and sea environment is the artificial contamination of food and animal feed through the food chain.

Products from the Ocean and sea products contaminated with toxic chemicals and microplastic particles end up on the dining table without monitoring the specifications. This may cause health problems for consumers, with the occurrence of health symptoms or diseases closely linked to the contaminated food chain, and in this case, they are products of oceanic or marine origin.

In addition to the rise of water temperatures in the oceans and seas due to global climate change, they are exposed to other risks that further exacerbate their environmental and biological situation.

This includes the search for mineral resources in the depths of the oceans and seas, the new construction of cities, ports and industrial facilities on the coasts, and the collection and disposal of waste by non-environmental methods, such as chemicals and microplastics, sites contaminated with radioactive materials.

In addition, there are munitions and bombs lurking at the bottom since the First and Second World Wars as well as the discharging of waste through the water to islands and natural reserves in the open oceans and seas.

To compound the dramatic situation, the use of agricultural fertilizers, untreated wastewater from treatment plants and pharmaceutical factories, pollution through agriculture and animal husbandry, increasing acidity of the oceans and seas, noise pollution, and commercial overfishing, contributes to the destruction of the ocean floor and seas.

Industrial fishing is one of the most dangerous human actions that lead to the destruction of coral reefs in the depths of the oceans and seas that act as an integrated and important ecosystem for living marine organisms, from algae, to sea plankton, fish, starfish, to the largest marine mammals.

In addition, there are oil drilling operations in the depths of the oceans and seas, and the occurrence of oil disasters or accidents of loaded ships. Another threat to the oceans and seas is the extension of gas pipelines across them, which represents a danger to their flora and fauna.

In the long term, these conflicting processes represent a disturbing concern for the health of the environment and its living organisms. These methods are not considered innovative, ideal or contemporary ways for obtaining energy, and they cannot be described as clean energy types.

The short-term positive social and economic benefits cited as benefits, such as job creation, promotion of global trade, industry development and infrastructure construction, contrast with the long-term negative consequences for the environment, nature and global sustainability of the oceans and seas.

Therefore, transformative and innovative action is required around the world to develop and integrate modern technologies and alternatives that meet the contemporary requirements and needs of humans across the globe.

Referring to the statistical figures, there are about 150 million tons of waste in the oceans around the world, including 60 to 80% of plastic waste that covers vast areas across the oceans and seas, and its impact reaches natural reserves and remote islands. About 10 million tons of waste are added to the total waste annually.

There are currently five garbage patches in the middle of the oceans. The largest garbage patch, with an area approximately the size of Mongolia or Iran (area: 1.6 million square kilometers), is in the North Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. Only 8% of the world’s oceans and seas are protected, and the plan is to expand them to at least 30% by 2030.

The scale of devastation to the world’s oceans is so great that many of the areas currently affected ecologically or biologically can recover either very slowly or not at all if this continues, despite all exerted efforts.

To date, up to 20% of all existing coral reefs, up to 30% of all seagrass meadows, and up to 35% of all mangrove forests in the central oceans and seas have been destroyed.

The latter represents a shelter for rare species of insects, birds and animals that live in the open oceans and seas, and a resting place for birds migrating seasonally across oceans and continents.

Fisheries play an important role, as an ancient, distinctive and key sector, in achieving global human food security. They are a particularly important sector for the survival of residents who practice fishing as a profession, especially on islands and coastal areas.

For most islands and coastal areas, there are no wealth and resources other than oceanic or marine wealth and resources. In some developing countries, fishery products provide up to 50% of daily protein requirements from animal sources.

However, this sector is currently going through severe decline and degeneration, especially in the poorest countries that depend for their livelihood primarily on fishing. This affects primarily the lives of small fishermen and daily fishing to secure family food.

A large percentage of fish stocks in these poor countries is currently exposed to overfishing under the banners of rich countries, or commercial industrial fishing, which destroys the infrastructure of the deep oceans and seas. It will take a long time for the oceans and seas to recover from such brutal attacks by large industrial and commercial fishing companies.

All of this is happening daily and around the clock, without taking the environment of living organisms into consideration, or how it may affect their numbers and biodiversity in various locations.

The first and last goal of these companies that destroy the environment and the habitats of living organisms and endangered species, is the greatest profit, no matter what the cost.

Here lies the importance of the fourteenth goal of the United Nations, “Life Under Water,” and its role in ways to enhance the lives of people (also the lives of living creatures), the health of the planet, prosperity, peace, and partnerships between countries.

People: Oceans, seas and bodies of water represent important sources of food and daily income for people, and in particular those in the fishing, tourism and port sectors who benefit greatly from them. Oceans, seas and bodies of water can help sustain the livelihoods of marine creatures and people alike.

Planet: Oceans, seas, and other bodies of water such as rivers and lakes, are important habitats for many living organisms. Thanks to their subtle ecosystems, these contribute in many positive aspects to a healthy nature both underwater and on land.

The oceans and seas absorb a large portion of the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, ensuring a tolerable and acceptable temperature for humans and the rest of the living organisms on Earth.

Prosperity: Through sustainable use of oceans and seas, as well as rivers and lakes, important human livelihoods are maintained over the long term, and unemployment, poverty, hunger, misery and misery can be avoided, especially in the poorest areas.

An important prerequisite for achieving this goal is to realize that prosperity is the right of every individual, and that it depends fundamentally on the fair distribution of wealth and natural resources among all people.

Peace: One of the important conditions for lasting and global peace is the fair distribution of resources and wealth, and not abusing them in their original areas or hijacking them by creating problems and wars for resources and wealth, and then smuggling them illegally to different areas.

In its narrow sense, peace means taking into consideration the environment and habitats of living organisms, no matter how small they are, that share habitats with humans. There must be no way whatsoever to harass them, restrict their ways of living, displace them, kill them, or exterminate them.

Partnership: Partnership means not only taking, but also giving sustainably. To achieve an effective and long-term partnership, whether at the local or global level, it is important to define the partnership and specify its form, so that there is no disappointment later about achieving “global sustainability.

To achieve a sustainable partnership, it must be based on stable foundations and systems, built on democracy and characterized by justice and by transparency – all three are key to successful partnerships and global sustainability.

Regarding Sudan’s position in this goal of “life under water” and how to achieve it or approach it until the year 2030, it is necessary first to mention the water resources and wealth that Sudan enjoys. Sudan has the longest course of the world’s longest – The Nile River that provides the freshest drinking water in the geographical area.

The river is home to many plants and animals such as hippos, crocodiles, fish and snails. When it overflows, it throws fertile silt, and along its banks and course are farms of vegetables, legumes, and grains, and palm fields that yield the finest types of rare dates dating back to the era of the ancient Nubian kingdoms. It also has fruit orchards that yield the best types of fruits, including bananas, mangoes, oranges, and grapefruit.

This unique biodiversity of various products is available in the land of Sudan, and over large areas, watered by the Nile. The river course in Sudan has the unique characteristic that there is no environmental pollution from the wastes of cities and factories or from water sewage. This makes the banks of the Nile in Sudan a sustainable haven for human living and animal husbandry, which is a source of meat, dairy and their products.

Sudan also has seasonal rivers that flow from year to year. Since the land is somewhat barren for years, people are satisfied with pure drinking water when the seasonal rivers flow.

At the same time, they can grow vegetables, fruits, and various crops. People can also catch fish from these seasonal rivers.

A good specific example is Khor Abu Habal, which represents a seasonal river, flowing from the Nuba Mountains, passing through Rahad, winding through areas considered semi-desert and finally emptying into the White Nile.

Sudan is also blessed with a long coastline on the Red Sea, totaling about 780 kilometers. There are no fewer than five sand islands across its width, with waters varying in depth, shallowness, and purity of the surrounding waters. Such features make the Red Sea coast of Sudan a unique biological shelter for multiple and rare types of sea animals, including fish of different colors, and rare types of marine mammals.

Coral reef islands draw beautiful pictures in the depths of the Red Sea and the coast of Sudan. This is sometimes exploited to collect rare types of living sea creatures, for scientific research and to extract pharmaceutical and medical materials, such as scientific research related to marine cork, for example.

The ominous danger surrounding the Red Sea and the coast of Sudan is in its neglect as a natural reserve that has not yet been affected by the industrial and the tourism dimensions like other Red Sea sites.

There is another lurking danger, which we can say is a red danger in the Red Sea – The marketing offers to Sudan to sell its ports, “Port Sudan and Suakin,” to other port authorities that do not care about Sudan and its future.

In addition, there are attempts to promote the construction of military bases on the Sudanese coast for purposes that do not serve the security of the country, but rather the expansion of global influence and ways to create hostilities between peoples.

Another new danger is the attempts at illegal fishing, which takes place at night in the waters of the Sudanese coast of the Red Sea and without proper permits.

This is commercial and industrial fishing, through which the rare ecosystems of marine natural reserves, such as the rare coral reef islands in marine reserves in Sudan, are destroyed.

Among the dangers facing the Red Sea as a whole is the rapid development, which has turned it over the past months into a scene of ongoing wars and the hijacking of ships, including commercial ones that serve human lives.

A danger targeting the Nile River comes from first attempts to divert the river’s course by building reservoirs and dams, knowing that diverting the Nile River Basin will have disastrous consequences under global climate changes.

This is represented in a simplified way by the large amount of water that descends without a large geological gradient from the sources of the Nile in Shiga, Lake Victoria, and Lake Tana.

The danger is also exacerbated by the lack of agreement on the equitable distribution of Nile water, which may have been an early indicator of wars between the Nile River countries. It is urgent to take this future problem into consideration and solve it internationally and fairly.

Reaching this goal is that the citizens of Sudan should first enjoy peace in his country by retaking their homes from their usurpers, and providing them with means to go back home from abroad and from where they had been displaced internally for almost a year.

When Eid Al Fitr crowns the fasting month of Ramadan, every citizen should be able to celebrate the special feast at home. Every perpetrator and abuser should be held accountable for deepening the suffering of the men and women of Sudan of all age groups.

Poverty, hunger, and disease are worsening in a productive country like Sudan with the continuation of the war and the arrival of summer.

The war has disrupted the state’s facilities and institutions, and almost turned the country into a mass grave for civilians who were not involved in any way in it.

The war has affected all productive sectors, such as agriculture, pastoralism, and fishing, due to the lack of safety in the fertile and productive areas through which the Nile River flows, and which has traditionally been an important lifeline for agricultural, pastoral and fisheries life.

An example of this is the disruption of life in the city of Wad Madani and the productive Al-Jazira region. In addition, the war has had a direct impact on many productive areas with insecurity and the threat of a comprehensive civil war that will destroy everything.

There is also tremendous population pressure after the war on Sudan’s first port, located on the Red Sea coast in the city of Port Sudan. Following the invasion of the large Sudanese capital, with its three cities: Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum Bahri, the coastal city temporarily became the country’s capital out of necessity, and an international transit area through its small airport.

The increase in population in this coastal city, the subsequent consumption of water and food resources, and the production of more harmful and untreated waste may be a reason for the occurrence of disasters on environmental health. They may have affected the status of the coasts and islands, which until recently were described as being in their best natural condition.

Sudan, as is no secret to anyone, is a country rich in wealth and resources, including water, and from this point, many nations are flocking to Sudan.

One goal is to cover other countries’ future needs for water at a time of global desolation expected by 2050, and a future as barren as a dry desert.

This will be a time when water sources are so limited that no one can give a glass of fresh water to another without compensation. The people of Sudan are fully aware of all this, of the intentions of the countries that are lurking around it and its wealth and resources, and which seek to dismantle its unity and fragment it, until it weakens so that they can lay their hands on it forever and enjoy the wealth and natural resources it possesses.

This war has demonstrated to the people of Sudan bad intentions targeting them, and they are now more attentive to the plots against their country, a nation that was yesterday a safe homeland, but today every home has suffered from the loss of loved ones, exploitation and abusive displacement to domestic or international places.

The Sudanese at home and abroad are fully aware of what is afflicting their country now, unfortunately with the help of people with weak souls, who lack the human and national conscience, and the sense of belonging to Sudan as a nation. Some of them were even engineers in the wars between the Sudanese of the North and the people of the South until this led to secession in 2011.

Now, and since 2023, they have been seriously striving to work to spread discord among the people of the West, Center, North and East in Sudan, until the country disintegrates into states.

However, this cannot happen in moments of deep self-awareness through this artificial war, and with what has been happening every day since April 15, 2023.

We say here to everyone: The true people of the West, the Middle, the North, and the East do not lack patriotism, nor do they lack a deep sense of belonging to this nation. The strength of a united Sudan will not be broken, and all attempts by outsiders, brokers, and labor traffickers to fragment the unity of Sudan and disperse its people will fail.

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