» Pushing for more effective ocean science communication
16.12.2016 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Pushing for more effective ocean science communication

© VLIZ (Verhaeghe, Els): IOC's Francesca Santoro moderates the CommOCEAN Plenary on first day of the conference.

200 participants from 29 countries met in Bruges to exchange innovative ideas and learn about the newest tools in ocean science communication at the CommOCEAN Conference.

Bolstering understanding of ocean research and its possible applications for society at large is the most effective way to trigger concrete actions in favor of a healthier ocean. That was the main message behind the organization of the 2nd International Marine Science Communication Conference, CommOCEAN (Bruges, 6-8 December 2016).

The Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), Vladimir Ryabinin, in opening the conference said: “The CommOCEAN Conference could not be held at a more opportune time. The international community and the intergovernmental circles have now, finally… recognized the importance of the ocean for the health of the planet, for sustainable development and human health and welfare. There is no doubt that this recognition of the ocean is the result of two kinds of successes of oceanographers: the progress of ocean science and effective communication of scientific achievements to the circles of decision makers”.

During the two days of the conference, keynote speakers, including BBC presenter Paul Rose, and a host of panelists from all walks of scientific research and science communication discussed how to promote a closer interaction between marine scientists, educators and other stakeholders, as advocated by the ocean literacy movement since its inception.

Some important elements emerged from the discussion:

- Technologies offer new scientific knowledge that must be used with wisdom and a clear purpose

- There is no single template that we can use to communicate about the ocean: we need to know our targets and develop our communication strategies accordingly

- There is pressing need to develop innovative and creative solutions, working collectively with all ocean stakeholders

The conference closed with the award of the Professor Mário Ruivo Prize to young ocean champions who developed ideas for projects to improve how humans interact with the ocean.

The CommOCEAN conference was followed by a 1-day training, organized through IOC’s Ocean Teacher Global Academy. Lisa Tossey from the University of Delaware and the National Marine Science Educators Association led several sessions focused on giving the 50 participants all the tools and tips for effective ocean science communication in the digital era. While using the most effective technology and digital channels is important, Ms. Tossey was clear that the real keys for success in ocean science communication are creativity, passion, and a good deal of strategic planning.

The CommOCEAN conference was co-organized by the IOC, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), the European Marine Board (EMB) and the EMB Communications Panel.

For more information, please contact:

Francesca Santoro (f.santoro@unesco.org)




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