05.11.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector

MarCuba: Marine and coastal sciences at the service of society

Wendy Watson-Wright, Assistant Director General and Executive Secretary, UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), gave a keynote speech on ‘Main issues in marine and coastal sciences: demands after Rio+20’ during the IX Marine Science Congress (MarCuba 2012) in Havana on 29 October 2012.

MarCuba 2012 brought together scientists, decision makers, specialists and stakeholders involved in marine sciences, observation systems, coastal and marine services and technologies, economy and education from 25 countries. This year, the congress was organized under the theme ‘Marine and coastal sciences at the service of society’.

Ms Watson-Wright gave an overview of the results of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and the challenges ahead, highlighting IOC’s efforts in the conservation of marine biodiversity, coastal areas and mangroves, among other key issues within UNESCO/IOC’s mandate to promote programmes and initiatives that effectively improve the management of marine resources and the governance of the ocean. UNESCO-IOC is providing scientific and technical advice to Member States to support their marine spatial planning efforts and to define Ecologically or Biologically Significant marine Areas (EBSAs).

She stressed the need for international collaboration in view of the universal character of climate change impacts.

During this first visit to Cuba since becoming Executive Secretary of UNESCO/IOC, Ms Watson-Wright also met with officials to discuss Cuba’s interest in the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), the largest online system for absorbing, integrating, and accessing data about life in the ocean. OBIS provides one of the best available data sources on marine biodiversity for policy-makers and environmental managers, and contributed in particular to the identification of EBSAs in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean (additional workshops are planned to cover other parts of the World).

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