07.09.2016 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Transfer of Marine Technology and Capacity Building: UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission can provide key inputs for new UN agreement on the High Seas

© Antoine Misonne: Full room at UN for IOC-Belgium-Fiji side event.

New York City, 29 August 2016. Well over 100 delegates attended the side event on Capacity Building and Transfer of Marine Technology, which was co-organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO and the permanent missions of Belgium and Fiji to the UN. The side event was part of the second Preparatory Committee meeting on the development of a new international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ PrepCom) under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 26 August – 9 September 2016.

Permanent representatives to UN H.E. Marc Pecsteen (Belgium) and H.E. Luke Daunivalu (Fiji) opened the event, highlighting the importance of capacity development and marine technology transfer, in particular for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in order to ensure an effective and universal participation of States in a new UNCLOS agreement. Both capacity development and marine technology transfer are mainstream themes of UNESCO’s IOC, as recognized in UN General Assembly resolutions as well as in the Sustainable Development Goal 14(a).

Experts from a host of academic and scientific institutions introduced the scope of capacity development and technology transfer, emphasising the critical importance to enable all countries to implement a new agreement across various cross-cutting themes (e.g. area-based management, environmental impact assessment, marine genetic resources, marine scientific research, environmental monitoring, and advancing technologies) as well as to apply the guiding principles and approaches for technology transfer and capacity development foreseen in UNCLOS toward publishing and disseminating the results of marine scientific research, providing training programs, scientist exchanges and establishing regional marine science and technology centres.

Ms Harriet Harden-Davies (Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong) suggested that key technology transfer and capacity development priorities for the new agreement could include: support for international science cooperation and technology development; networks of marine science and technology centres; open data; sample sharing; training, mentoring and skill development. In addition, she discussed the possible role of a technology transfer and capacity development clearinghouse.

The side event highlighted the different ways in which IOC’s particular strengths could provide useful input toward targeting these priorities: in open access to data and information, required for building knowledge (through the Ocean Biogeographic Information System), human capacity-building through regional training centres (Ocean Teacher Global Academy), development of guides, manuals, codes of conduct and best practices in Marine Scientific Research (e.g., through the Argo Project) and data standards and management (International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange, IODE).

While delegations seek ways to call upon a new UNCLOS legally-binding agreement to provide an effective mechanism and institutional arrangements to implement transfer of marine technology and capacity-development in relation to biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, IOC Chair Mr. Peter Haugan (Norway) emphasized that the new IOC Capacity Development Strategy provides a strong framework, which when supported by dedicated funding (IOC’s Capacity Development Fund) can provide a clearing-house mechanism for transfer of marine technology.

The question now remaining is how a new legally-binding instrument under UNCLOS can provide an effective mechanism and institutional arrangements to implement CD and TMT in relation to BBNJ. This new agreement could provide a much needed mechanism for enhanced implementation of Part XIV of UNCLOS, something States agreed to do during the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The new agreement would also complement efforts to implement the recently approved 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) – “Conserve and Sustainably Use Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development” – and the SAMOA pathway for SIDS.


Side Event presentations can be downloaded from:

Introduction to CB/TMT needs in BBNJ:

Kristina Gjerde, IUCN; Harriet Harden-Davies, University of Wollongong, Australia; Judith Gobin, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.


Role of IOC of UNESCO in CB/TMT

Mr Peter Haugan, IOC Chair, Norway


A global data sharing and clearing house for marine biodiversity data through OBIS -

Mr Eduardo Klein, OBIS Chair, Venezuela and Sky Bristol, OBIS co-chair, USA


Training the next generation of ocean scientists and area managers through OceanTeacher and its global network of regional training centres

Mr Aidy M Muslim, Coordinator OTGA RTC Malaysia and Deputy Director, INOS, Malaysia


The role of research in informing area-based management and environmental impact assessments in ABNJ, particularly through technology transfer and capacity building

Daniel Dunn, Duke University, USA




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