» IOC-UNESCO launches first-ever Global Ocean Science Report and calls for a Decade of Ocean Science at The Ocea...
09.06.2017 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

IOC-UNESCO launches first-ever Global Ocean Science Report and calls for a Decade of Ocean Science at The Ocean Conference

© UNESCO - Participants in the launch of the IOC Global Ocean Science Report on 8 June 2017 at the UN Ocean Conference in New York.

Who, how, and where is ocean science conducted around the world? The status and trends in global ocean science capacity were unveiled in the first ever Global Ocean Science Report (GOSR), launched by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO on 8 June 2017, at the occasion of World Oceans Day at the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York.

The Global Ocean Science Report: The Current Status of Ocean Science around the World was presented for the very first time during a side event on “Building Knowledge for Sustainable Development” hosted in collaboration by UNESCO’s IOC and the Governments of Norway, Maldives and Samoa.

Delivering opening remarks, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, underscored our need to improve capacities to collect and properly compile relevant data, highlighting the role of science, technology and innovation (STI) in addressing loss and damage, mitigation and adaptation in the context of climate change; improving livelihoods; and ensuring ocean health.

Tone Skogen, State Secretary for Norway, and Mohamed Shainee, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture of the Maldives, also delivered opening remarks.

The Report provides a starting point to understand where marine scientific capacities exist and where they could be strengthened through international cooperation and effective mechanisms for the transfer of marine technologies, particularly for the benefits of Least Developing Countries (LDC) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). A series of recommendations to the attention of policy-makers closes the publication.

Its main observation is that ocean sciences are led by a small number of industrialized countries, although collecting data and taking the measure of the ocean’s health is a global priority considering the economic and environmental stakes involved. Indeed, in 2010 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated the ocean to yield an added value of $1.5 trillion.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova argued that the Global Ocean Science Report provides, inter alia, a call to action for governments to start funding the operationalization of the Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology of UNESCO’s IOC, and reinforce scientific capacities of developing countries worldwide.

To be published every five years, the inaugural Report also serves as an instrument to assess progress in the accomplishment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 on the conservation and use of the oceans, seas and marine resources. An Executive Summary is available online.

Following the official launch of the GOSR, Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC Executive Secretary, proposed on behalf of the IOC Member States for 2021-2030 to become the International UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. This initiative seeks to stimulate a global partnership on marine science, increase ocean-related scientific knowledge and enhance marine research capacities worldwide to support the sustainable development of our ocean.

IOC Chairperson Prof Peter M. Haugan argued that a global coherent framework such as the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is perhaps the only instrument that could effectively “stimulate a global partnership on the marine science requirements needed to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.” 

Several countries have already announced their support to the coordinated efforts advocated by the proposed Decade, notably by reflecting several references to ocean science and its importance to achieve SDG 14 in the draft “Call for Action” that will be adopted at the UN Ocean Conference. 

Other prominent speakers in this side event included H.E. Prof Zakri Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia; and Capt Ariel Troisi, Head of the Naval Hydrographic Service of Argentina.

Later in the afternoon, UNESCO’s IOC also participated in Partnership Dialogue 6 on “Increasing scientific knowledge, and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology”.

Scientific understanding of the ocean is fundamental to carry out effective management of human activities that affect the marine environment, as well as to predict, mitigate and guide the adaptation of societies to cope with many ways the ocean affects human lives and infrastructures. But this knowledge cannot be generated without strengthened capacity building activities such as: training of personnel to develop and enhance relevant expertise; providing of the necessary equipment, facilities and vessels by States and international financing institutions; and transfer of environmentally-sound technologies. The IOC Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, directly referenced in SDG 14.a, constitute a reference document on this last matter.

The UN Ocean Conference furthermore served to launch a new initiative called “Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030” aiming to facilitate the complete mapping of the ocean floor by 2030. A voluntary commitment to the Conference, the project is jointly coordinated by the Nippon Foundation – one of the global ocean science champions honored by IOC – and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), of which IOC is one of the two parent organizations alongside the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). 

71% of the Earth is covered by the world’s ocean for which the bottom topography (bathymetry) is far less known than the surface of several planets in our solar system. Yet, knowledge of the shape of the seafloor is crucial for understanding ocean circulation patterns relating to regional and global ocean-atmosphere processes – a key component of Earth’s climate system. Detailed measurements are also critical for predicting tsunami inundation and the study of tides, underwater geo-hazards, fisheries management and resource exploration, among many others benefits.

Seabed 2030’s main objective will be to compile all available and newly collected bathymetric data into a high quality, high resolution digital model of the ocean floor, and to promote international coordination and collaboration with regard to data acquisition, assimilation and compilation.

Please visit our page “UNESCO @ UN Ocean Conference” for a comprehensive view of the programme, our side events and all our voluntary commitments.

For more information, please contact:

Salvatore Arico (s.arico(at)unesco.org), for information about the Global Ocean Science Report

Julian Barbière (j.barbiere(at)unesco.org), for information about the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the “NF-GEBCO Seabed 2030” initiative, and more generally the participation of UNESCO’s IOC at the Ocean Conference.

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