» Strengthening global support for Decade of Ocean Science at UN General Assembly
27.09.2017 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Strengthening global support for Decade of Ocean Science at UN General Assembly

© UNESCO - Side event on the Decade of Ocean Science at UN Headquarters on 25 September 2017 (New York, USA).

On 25 September 2017, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO and the Permanent Missions of the Maldives and Norway to the United Nations organized a side event to the UN General Assembly in New York to promote the proposed International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Mr. Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of the Environment and Energy of the Maldives, emphasized the potential of the proposed Decade to bring attention to the need for more robust marine science as well as greater underlying cooperation between states.

Like the Maldives, Norway has a strong dependence on the ocean. Mr. Jo Høvik, Special Advisor on the Oceans in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that Norway is investing in mapping and monitoring activities. In tandem to these efforts, the Nansen Program recently launched its third research vessel to strengthen both regional and national efforts.

UN-Oceans, the coordination mechanism involving all UN agencies working on ocean issues, illustrated the crucial role of marine science in forecasting and guiding adaptation to climate change. The Decade would not only promote the development and transfer of marine technology, but also support reporting on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 and assist in the development of integrated ocean management.

Mr. Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC Executive Secretary, stated that despite the significant progress of scientific knowledge and ocean observing systems, much remains unknown, including the functions and services of certain marine ecosystems and an estimated one million undiscovered species. In addition, he described the vital role of oceans in social and ecological systems and the urgency to understand the multiple stresses on oceans and the potential related hazards.

Continuing the discussion, the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) echoed the need to effectively observe and understand the ocean in order to overcome the gaps in current coverage and to maintain valuable marine resources. NOAA underscored the international effort required to achieve sufficient ocean observation.

Lastly, the Decade would be an opportunity to advance the work of the IOC in both increasing the number of trainees and improving gender equality in training. Efforts to implement SDG 14 have a direct impact on all other SDGs.

IOC and UN Member States have already endorsed the initiative at the UN Ocean Conference (5-9 June 2017, New York), the 29th Session of the IOC Assembly (21-29 June 2017, Paris), and through the Lisbon “Ministerial Declaration on Oceans and Human Health” (8 September 2017, Lisbon).

For more information, please contact:


Julian Barbière, Head Marine Policy and Regional Coordination, (j.barbiere(at)unesco.org)

UNESCO New York Office:

Hellin Brink (h.brink(at)unesco.org)

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