» Mobilizing ocean science and civil society for sustainable development
04.11.2017 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Mobilizing ocean science and civil society for sustainable development

© UNESCO/C. Alix - High level participants to the IOC side event on the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) - 2 November 2017, UNESCO Headquarters (Paris, France)

On 2 November 2017, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, with the support of the Government of Norway, hosted a side event to mobilize more coordinated efforts across nations and sectors for generating new knowledge and understanding of the ocean, and therefore improve management, stewardship and sustainable development of 71% of our planet.

Organized during UNESCO’s 39th General Conference, this side event benefited from the special participation of Ms Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General; Mr Peter Thomson, the United Nations Secretary-General’s first-ever Special Envoy for the Ocean; and Mr. Bjørn Haugstad, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Education and Research of Norway.

In their opening remarks, they called jointly for a United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030): The Ocean We Need for the Future We Want. Peter Thomson argued that now more than never, “we need good science to make good decisions” to protect our ocean.

The side event promoted this major effort by the IOC of UNESCO and many other stakeholders to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources. Ms. Bokova emphasized that “scientific cooperation and diplomacy are essential” to creating the collective framework needed to achieve SDG14 by 2030. 

A round table panel complemented the high level and special addresses, featuring IOC Executive Secretary Vladimir Ryabinin; IOC Chairperson Peter Haugan (Norway); the Vice-Chancellor of the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Prof. Nor Aieni Haji Mokhtar; and the Executive Director of Tara Foundation and representing the Ocean and Climate Platform, Romain Troublé.

Panelists notably discussed the need to boost international cooperation in ocean observations and mapping – only 10% of the ocean has been mapped and less than 0.05% of the ocean floor has been mapped at highest resolution – as well as capacity development and transfer of marine technology.

The Global Ocean Science Report, the flagship UNESCO publication published earlier this year, was also mentioned as it provides a comprehensive assessment of the status of ocean science and trends, and will greatly contribute to track progress on SDG14 and the Decade of Ocean Science.

Questions from the audience, including those following via webcast, addressed mainly how the Decade proposes to integrate the private sector and civil society more largely in its programme of work. Peter Thomson concluded the side event with a promise that as Special Envoy for the Ocean, he will seek to bring all ocean stakeholders together in an alliance to support the Decade of Ocean Science.

Around 110 people participated in the side event, both in the room and online following the webcast.

For more information, please contact:

Julian Barbière (j.barbiere(at)unesco.org

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