IOC works to develop indicator frameworks on the state of ocean health and the functioning of marine and coastal ecosystem services. These indicators are important to evaluate ecosystem resilience as well as to predict or detect at an early stage any major changes in marine ecosystems (i.e. acidification, loss of oxygen, loss of biodiversity, plastic pollution, etc.). The knowledge and analytical tools developed by IOC programmes and special projects are invaluable to pushing forward an integrated, ecosystem-based approach to ocean management.
Within this integrated ocean management framework, a local and regional focus is central to understanding how much stress particular ecosystems can handle before reaching the tipping point beyond which they might never recover. IOC therefore prioritizes the development of human and technical capacities of developing Member States at the national and sub-national levels, coordinating research that is otherwise piecemeal and unstructured.
IOC works toward this High Level Objective through the following programmes:
- Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS)
- Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM)
- International Ocean Data and Information Exchange (IODE)
- Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS)
- UN Regular Process and Assessment of Assessments (UN-Reg Process)
- Harmful Algal Bloom Programme (HAB programme)
- Global Oceanography and Ecology of Harmful Algal Blooms (GEOHAB)
- Integrated Coastal Research – nutrient management
- Nutrients and Coastal Impacts Research Programme (N-CIRP)