Laughing Bird Caye, Belize.

Life below the surface cannot endure without us changing how we live our lives above the surface. And that means our idea of “ocean conservation” needs to be greatly broadened.

Over the past decades, we have grown more sophisticated in our ability to monitor and measure the deteriorating state of the oceans – the dramatic decline of many marine species, the buildup of harmful pollutants in bays and estuaries, and the ongoing loss of large swaths of critical habitats – like coral reefs.

But sadly, we are nowhere near as sophisticated at arresting the losses, reversing the tide, and improving ocean health.

We need healthy oceans to support all life on the planet. Ocean health is ultimately a lifestyle problem, and this means we must reinvent how we live our lives above the water.

Saving the oceans means an urgent transition away from our carbon-intensive, non-renewable, high-waste economy; and toward an economy that is durable, just, and sustainable.

It’s all there in the SDGs

As world leaders meet this week in New York for the first-ever United Nations Oceans Conference, we can take hope from the fact that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the most ambitious collective targets ever set for protecting the planet and its people.

While SDG 14 centers on the ocean, all the SDGs are connected by the core concept that we have to build a sustainable economic model that works for all humanity. This means redesigning our economy from one that relentlessly degrades our planet to one that restores and regenerates…