18.01.2019 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Leading global coordination of ocean science: IOC Officers Meeting

© UNESCO/C. Alix - IOC Officers and Executive Secretary with UNESCO's Director-General, Audrey Azoulay on 17 January 2019 (Paris, France).

Paris, 18 January 2019 – The Officers of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), composed of its Chairperson, Vice-Chairs and the previous IOC Chairperson, held their annual meeting with the IOC Secretariat at UNESCO Headquarters to review progress in the Commission’s activities and prepare upcoming milestones such as its 30th Assembly (July 2019) and 60th Anniversary (2020).

Topics of discussion covered the wide range of activities implemented by the IOC at global and regional level, including ocean observations and science, hazard monitoring systems, capacity development and data management, as well as marine policy and ocean governance.

Among many IOC’s recent highly visible achievements, the Secretariat named the 2 millionth Argo profile, the operational launch of the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, a study by the Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE) on dead zones widely reported across the global media, and the pilot project to test the “Ocean Literacy for All” toolkit in 30 countries. The Officers expressed their deep appreciation to the Secretariat for the extremely large volume of professional coordination and organization-related work conducted by the small IOC Secretariat.

The IOC Secretariat also presented the progress achieved in the preparations of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). The Decade’s Executive Planning Group was formed and met for the first time in December 2018 to brainstorm on scientific, governance, communications and engagement aspects ahead of the first Global Planning Meeting and regional consultations to take place throughout 2019.

On the role and contribution of the IOC to international frameworks – both existing and in the process of being developed – the Officers stressed the need to bring science to the fore and advocate for a shared knowledge-base and transfer of marine technology, in particular in the context of the UN agreement on biodiversity in the high seas (BBNJ) currently under negotiation between governments.

Officers also examined the Draft Programme and Budget of the Commission for 2020-2021 as well as the Preliminary proposals by the Secretariat for the Draft Medium-Term Strategy 2022-2029.

Joining the meeting, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay commended the commitment of the IOC Secretariat in carrying out all its activities with very modest resources.

“Thanks to the IOC, the ocean science is better recognized today,” she said, noting at the same time the importance of increased funding for the IOC budget. “To achieve that, we need to better emphasize the social return on investment for the Member States and partners who contribute to IOC services.”

The 2030 Agenda and in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14 provide a great opportunity to engage governments, ocean businesses, civil society and scientists around a common goal – save our ocean.

Other discussion items included the preparation of the 30th Session of the IOC Assembly (26 June-4 July 2019), with an “Ocean Science Day” in support of the Decade; the election of the IOC Executive Council during the Assembly; and initiation of preparations for the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the IOC in 2020.

The meeting concluded with an open and informal discussion with “Friends of the Ocean”, a group of UNESCO Member States. It was convened by the Norwegian Delegation to UNESCO.

The Officers are elected by the 149 Member States of the IOC during its Assembly held every two years. They are part of the IOC Executive Council and can serve for a maximum of two consecutive terms.




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