Clean Waters

minimizing pollution

This goal measures contamination by trash, nutrients, pathogens and chemicals.  

Water pollution harms human health, livelihoods, and recreation, as well as the health of marine life and habitats.

Lack of global datasets prevented inclusion of toxic algal blooms, oil spills, turbidity(sediment input), floating trash and other known contaminants in goal calculations. When available, they can be incorporated into the global assessment as well as regional assessments.  

Global Goal Score


Likely Future State


Ocean Region Rankings

*The estimate of a goal’s likely near-term future status is a function
of four dimensions: Status, Trend, Pressure, and Resilience.

What Does This Score Mean?

Clean Waters measures the degree to which waters are polluted by eutrophication (excess nutrients), chemicals, pathogens, and trash. The reference point is zero pollution.

This goal score is higher when the pollution of estuarine, coastal, and open ocean waters is minimized. The goal score is lower when there are high levels of pollutants.

Current Score

The current score indicates that the ocean may have lower levels of pollutants than anticipated, but there are still large opportunities for improvement. Reducing the inflow of excessive nutrients and levels of chemicals, pathogens and trash requires remedial actions at every level of government as well as adjustments to behavior on an individual basis.



What Are the Impacts of Polluted Marine Waters?
Download Infographic

How Is It Measured?

Each goal is evaluated on the basis of four dimensions
Present Status

Present Status is a goal's current value (based on the most recent available data) compared to a reference point.


Trend is the average percent change in the present status for the most recent 5 years of data.


Pressures are the sum of the ecological and social pressures that negatively affect scores for a goal.


Resilience is the sum of the ecological factors and social initiatives (policies, laws, etc) that can positively affect scores for a goal by reducing or eliminating pressures.


Pressures are human-caused stressors that influence both ecological and social systems, negatively affecting the ability of a goal to deliver its benefits to people.


Status refers to the current value of a goal relative to its goal-specific reference point. The reference point is the best condition for a goal that can reasonably be achieved; it is a target to aim for when taking actions to improve ocean health.


Resilience refers to the social, institutional, and ecological factors that positively affect the ability of a goal to deliver its benefits to people.


PHOTO(S): © Keith A. Ellenbogen
Follow us