Humans have become a dominant force of planetary change. This epoch, referred to as the Anthropocene, implies profound alterations to the Earth’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems upon which so many people depend. The prospect of a new era of blue growth, in particular, poses unprecedented sustainability and governance challenges to the ocean, as marine ecosystems face cumulative pressures from local human impacts, global climate change and distal socioeconomic drivers. This session will explore what the Anthropocene means for the ocean and how to steer it in a sustainable and equitable way. With the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon rapidly approaching (June 2020) and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development about to begin, panellists will present new research frontiers at the science-policy-practice interface and discuss how to approach ocean sustainability in the 21st century.