08.06.2017 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Saving our ocean requires a sustained commitment to observations and science

Despite the central role of the ocean for humanity, biodiversity and the health of our planet, it is currently being degraded by the lack of understanding and management of its complex processes and trends. On 7 June 2017, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO was given the opportunity to address the Plenary of the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York about the steps needed to save our ocean.

The UN First World Ocean Assessment found that this decline in health was largely due to failure to integrate scientific evidence into the sustainable management of our ocean. More must be done to alert on the crucial role of observations and research in providing the knowledge needed to make informed decisions rooted in sustainable development.

“A continued failure to address these problems is likely to create a destructive cycle of degradation that will ultimately deprive society and our planet of the many benefits derived from the ocean,” said Julian Barbière, Head of the IOC Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section, on behalf of IOC-UNESCO.

IOC is already deeply involved in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 – on the conservation and use of the oceans, seas and marine resources – as the custodian agency for targets 14.3 and 14.a on ocean acidification and marine research capacity, respectively, and by contributing the science base across several other targets. But success in achieving SDG 14 also calls for increasing public awareness about the state of the ocean, which IOC works to accomplish by cultivating a culture of caring through ocean literacy activities and, more generally, education for sustainable development through other UNESCO programmes.

Finally, Julian Barbière called on the audience to join the proposal of IOC Member States to launch an International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development for the years 2021-2030, to be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. The Decade would provide a framework for concerted action for all States and relevant stakeholders to mainstream the research and related capacity development that are absolutely needed to achieve SDG 14.

Please visit our page “UNESCO @ UN Ocean Conference” for a comprehensive view of the programme, our side events and all our voluntary commitments.

For more information, please contact:

Julian Barbière (j.barbiere(at)unesco.org)




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