Conserving & sustainably using the oceans, seas, & marine resources for sustainable development is the purpose of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 1). This goal strives to prevent marine pollution, protect & conserve ecosystems, & end destructive fishing.

Actions, stories, & resources related to SDG 14: Life Below Water as told in the 2021 Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report, and then expanded on below, illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit


Oceans provide key natural resources, including food, medicines, biofuels, climate moderation, and carbon storage. Because oceans are so essential to life on earth, the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s oceans, seas, and marine resources is vital to protecting all of Earth’s life forms. Maintaining healthy marine systems supports climate mitigation, economic development, good health and wellbeing, and biodiversity.

Auburn University is highly engaged with Goal 14 across teaching, research, and outreach activities. Auburn University is engaged most with Goal 14 through teaching activities, teaching a minimum of 24 courses throughout the three-year span from 2016-2018. Auburn University is a sea-grant institution in addition to being a land-grant institution. Because Auburn University’s mission is to serve the state of Alabama, and because Alabama has a strong coastal community providing income and livelihood for thousands of Alabama residents, the health of marine systems directly involves Auburn University. Additionally, Auburn University’s global perspective and desire to achieve world renown make global marine conservation, preservation, and mitigation relevant concerns.

View the 2021 report titled Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for an overview of Auburn’s contributions to all the SDGs.

Actions at Auburn

The Marine Biology Major, housed in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, serves to provide expert training for its students and covers a full range of topics including coral reefs, coastal marshes, the Everglades, marine pollution, chemical and coastal wetlands ecology, and climate change. Students in the program act as ambassadors and have participated in educational opportunities to explain the importance of marine systems, the impact of plastics in the environment, the ongoing impacts of generalized global pollution on coastal regions, and the impact of plastics and fossil fuels on the atmosphere, oceans, climate, and humans. The program provides experiential learning and research opportunities that empower students to protect the world’s oceans.

Marine biology student SCUBA diving sdg Photo courtesy of Chadwick Laboratory
Alabama Water Watch logo SDG 14 Logo courtesy of Alabama Water Watch

Alabama Water Watch (AWW), part of Auburn University Water Resource Center, is a citizen volunteer water quality monitoring program covering all of the major river basins of the state. The mission of AWW is to improve both water quality and water policy through citizen monitoring and action. AWW uses EPA-approved monitoring plans with a community-based approach to train citizens to monitor conditions and trends of their local waterbodies. AWW helps volunteers collect, analyze, and understand their data to make positive impacts. The AWW vision is to have a citizen monitor on every stream, river, lake, and coast in Alabama. AWW aims to foster the development of statewide water quality monitoring by educating, training, and empowering citizens.

College of Agriculture’s Shamim Naigaga, under the direction of Dr. Claude Boyd, explored aquaculture in Uganda in her dissertation, “Potential Influence of Climate Variations, Water Quality and Soil Quality on Uganda’s Aquaculture.” Expansion of the aquaculture sector is needed to increase aquatic protein for human consumption, but fisheries production from lakes and other natural waters in Uganda is declining. This study was conducted to improve understanding of limitations imposed on aquaculture by environmental factors of climate, soils, and water quality in Uganda. Ugandans can implement practices to mitigate these limitations and maximize sustainable aquaculture production to ensure a stable protein source for human consumption.

Ugandans fishing sdg Photo courtesy of The Daily Monitor

People & Stories

Salt Marshes are Beautiful, Stinky, and Uncomfortable Places to Work

| Guest Posts, SDG14, SDG15 | No Comments
By Sam Bickley. The marshes that hug the banks of Alabama’s bays and bayous are smaller than some of their Louisiana or Georgia cousins but are no less beautiful. When the sun is setting over the black needlerush, the dominant marsh plant in our neck of the woods, and you…

Water Quality: Lessons from a Crayfish

| Guest Posts, SDG14, SDG6 | No Comments
By Molly Kilpatrick. What do crayfish and global water quality have to do with each other? As it turns out, a lot. In 2015, 193 countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda provides a framework for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, from now and…

Cooperation for Conservation: How Communities that Depend on Coral Reefs are Responding to the Climate Crisis

| Guest Posts, SDG14, SDG17 | No Comments
By Kelly Dunning. Coral reefs are the most colorful, lively, beautiful locations of life below the water, and yet they are the most threatened. Human burning of fossil fuel for heat, energy, and industry has led to a warming ocean, and with it, corals that turn a bright white color…

Campus Changemaker: Tony Moss

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By Grace Reilein. It is hard to imagine that the beautiful planet that we call home is 71% water. As humans, we occupy the land that only takes up around 20%. It can be easy to disregard the ocean and only focus on our stretch of land, but that would…

Spaceship Earth & the “Ultimate Life Support System”

| Director's Corner, SDG14 | No Comments
“I am a passenger on the spaceship Earth.” ~ Buckminster Fuller Imagine yourself on the International Space Station (ISS).  You’re up there captivated by views of our beautiful planet, doing experiments, completing assigned tasks, living, and floating weightless.  Hurtling around the world at over 17,000 miles per hour, there is…

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