15.11.2018 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Methodology for measuring marine acidity recognized by United Nations

A methodology to measure marine acidity will help keep track of national efforts to combat ocean acidification as countries fasten their pace to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The United Nations’ Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), the body charged with developing the indicator framework to measure progress on the implementation of the SDGs, formally recognized the “conceptual clarity” and international standards of the methodology and data-gathering approach for SDG indicator 14.3.1 (“average marine acidity (pH) measured at an agreed suite of representative sampling stations”).

IOC is the “custodian agency” for this indicator, and as such in charge of reporting back to the UN on progress for this indicator. The development of the methodology, a global framework for measurement and data collection of marine pH, was only possible with the strong support of the ocean acidification scientific community and in particular the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). It provides guidance to scientists and countries about how to carry out pH measurements and how to report them.

Endorsed in July 2018 during the 51st Session of the IOC Executive Council, the methodology has now been formally accepted by the UN IAEG-SDGs as a Tier 2 Indicator, signalling international consensus that it be used as a stock-taking tool for global efforts on the “ocean” Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 14.

In late 2017, the IAEG-SDGs had already upgraded SDG indicator 14.a.1 on the “proportion of total research budget allocated to research in the field of marine technology” from Tier 3 to Tier 2. Also under IOC custodianship, this indicator is based on a methodology developed for and exploited by the Commission’s flagship Global Ocean Science Report.

The global framework of indicators to monitor progress towards achieving the 17 SDGs and their 169 targets is classified by the IAEG-SDGs into three tiers, based on the level of methodological development and the availability of data at the global level.


For more information, please contact:

Kirsten Isensee (k.isensee(at)unesco.org)

Katherina Schoo (k.schoo(at)unesco.org)

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