SDG Observatory

Goal 14: Life Below Water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.


Life Below Water Globally

Sustainable Development Goal 14 is important both for protecting ocean ecosystems and preserving an essential global resource. The ocean ultimately provides and regulates rainwater, drinking water, much of our food, and even our weather. Without careful management, we could threaten 3 billion people’s primary source of protein. The biodiversity of life below water is already under threat due to plastic pollution, ocean acidification, and overfishing by human populations. Issues of pollution and acidification will only be exacerbated by climate change if we do not act now to save our oceans.


Life Below Water Locally

Although UT Dallas is not located along a coastline, preserving life below water is still an essential driver of sustainability and environmental preservation on campus. In our research and academics, we strive to drive innovation and inform students of the issues facing our waters. Through sustainable management of water highlighted through SDG 6 [Sustainable Development Goal 6] UTD is purposeful and responsible in our consumption of water. We also have our very own local watershed to protect on campus.

Cottonwood Creek runs through the UT Dallas campus. The West Fork of Cottonwood Creek runs along the west side of campus, through University Village. It ultimately joins other waterways at White Rock Lake, part of the Trinity River watershed. As community members, we strive to protect local wildlife that is part of the Trinity River watershed.



Watershed Stewardship

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
SDG 15: Life on Land

Through several different programs, the University of Texas at Dallas takes stewardship of our local watershed. The Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Office of Student Volunteerism, hosted monthly Campus Cleanup events throughout the academic year of 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. Students could sign up for Saturday shifts to join a group picking up litter in a designated area of campus, earning service hours for their work. When the COVID-19 pandemic shifted campus to a socially distanced format, the Office of Sustainability introduced the Watershed Warriors program, an opportunity for individual campus cleanup. After contacting the Office of Sustainability, students can pick up trash bags and trash grabbers and pick up areas of campus on their own time. Over the past year, 10 UTD students have participated in the Watershed Warriors program. Outside of student participation, our Facilities Management team is also dedicated to protecting local watersheds and habitats.


Research: Rare Underwater Life Discovery

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
SDG 13: Climate Action

A team of UT Dallas researchers joined US and Japanese geoscientists to discover a system of hydrothermal vents and wildlife three miles below surface level in the Pacific Ocean. Dr. Robert Stern, professor of geosciences at UT Dallas, shared that understanding life in deep waters can help inform research in the emergence of life on Earth. This research, published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences in 2012, is just one example of the groundbreaking work UTD faculty contribute to.

Read more about their discovery of hydrothermal vents.


Alternative Spring Break: Environmental Conservation

SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Although the Office of Student Volunteerism could no longer offer in-person Alternative Spring Break because of COVID-19, they offered unique virtual opportunities for student engagement in Spring of 2021. 12 participants joined an ASB [Alternative Spring Break] focused on Environmental Conservation. The virtual trip provided students with information about issues facing the environment and how service can help solve them. It included information about cleaning, restoring the habitat for wildlife, protecting ecosystems and conserving land, water, and shores. Despite the fact that students were not able to physically travel, they still had the opportunity to connect with professionals from several different organizations in the environmental sector. Another ASB [Alternative Spring Break] trip focused on Sustainability. The trip emphasized the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and how solutions to ending poverty, tackling climate change, and improving health and education go hand-in-hand. In conserving the environment and promoting sustainability, life below water is an essential piece that is emphasized in ASB [Alternative Spring Break] programming.

Learn more about Alternative Spring Break.


Landscape Management

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
SDG 15: Life on Land

UT Dallas is a campus that is comprised of buildings, greenspace, and natural landscaping features that includes many diverse species of flora and fauna. Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability work across campus to improve the livability of our landscapes. All 445 acres of the UT Dallas campus are managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that uses a four-tiered approach. By planting native plant species, UT Dallas saves irrigation water. As part of the Campus Landscape Enhancement Project, an Urban Forest (PDF) was established along University Drive. The forest is a densely planted area, reminiscent of a Texas creek bed. More than 5,000 trees and shrubs were planted, many of them native to Texas. The varieties include Afghan Pines, Bur Oaks, Caddo Maples, Cedar Elms, Chinquapin Oaks, Magnolias, Pond Cypress and Shumard Oaks. The Urban Forest is set in a natural riparian corridor running through campus. Through efficient and strategically planned watering, our Facilities Management team ensures that our campus landscape is healthy and visually appealing. Efficiency in campus irrigation minimizes water loss and waste. UT Dallas utilizes bioswales, rainwater harvesting, stormwater ponds, solar sync sensors, and native landscaping to minimize water loss and runoff. Bioswales have been added as part of new construction at the Student Service Building and Bioengineering and Science Building. Stormwater mitigation techniques improve the management of Cottonwood Creek that runs through campus.


Goals / Future Work

Increase student participation in Watershed Warriors and Campus Cleanup programs


Other Work We Do

The programs highlighted here are just one piece of the work we do on campus to achieve SDG 14 [Sustainable Development Goal 14] . View the full dataset (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ), guided by the Association of Advancement in Higher Education (AASHEAssociation of Advancement in Higher Education)’s Sustainable Development Goal translation guide.


Learn More

  • Take the online courses regarding Life Below Water from SDG Academy
  • Learn more about the targets and indicators at the UN Global Goals website