Ocean Sand: Putting sand on the ocean sustainability agenda

Sand is a fundamental feature of modern society. It is the second most used natural resource in the world, second only to water, and the single most mined material. In the ocean, sand forms the literals and figurative foundations upon which the future of coastal communities, biodiversity, and multi-billion-dollar industries rest. It acts as both a connector and a buffer at the land-sea interface while also underpinning local livelihoods and the rapid expansion of human activities into the ocean. The ubiquitous dredging industry, equipped to excavate, transport and dispose of sand, not only interacts with many ocean industries but also enables them, effectively orchestrating the mechanics of the ocean economy. This creates severe consequences for the surrounding ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. Yet, the importance of sand and its supply chain remains largely hidden from view and is rarely the focus of stakeholder groups traditionally involved in ocean planning.

Through a synthesis of the literature and spotlights from across the world, this report aims to put sand on the global ocean sustainability agenda by highlighting its relevance for ocean risks and resilience. It introduces the notion of ocean sand to embrace a more holistic approach to the sustainability and equity challenges posed by sand mining in the marine and coastal environment and proposes future pathways to trigger a step-change in how ocean sand is understood and governed.

Full Report