06.06.2017 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

UN-Oceans and Sustainable Development Goal 14: Building momentum for the ocean in the 2030 Agenda

© UNESCO - UN-Oceans representatives gathered at UN Ocean Conference on 5 June 2017 in New York, USA.

On 5 June 2017, the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference opened in New York, USA, gathering stakeholders from across the world in support of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 on the conservation and use of the oceans, seas and marine resources. It also provided the opportunity for UN-Oceans, the coordination mechanism involving all UN agencies working on ocean issues, to review its achievements and discuss future steps.

The side event “Ocean in the 2030 Agenda: UN-Oceans harbouring SDG 14”, triggered an interactive discussion between representatives of UN-Oceans member organizations, Governments and other relevant actors on the role that this inter-agency mechanism could play in the implementation of SDG 14 and other ocean-related targets and indicators.

As the only organization within the UN system with an ocean science mandate, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO plays a major role within this mechanism. As such, Vladimir Ryabinin, its Executive Secretary, insisted during his intervention on the importance of ocean science in advancing all aspects of SDG 14, as reflected in SDG target 14.a which calls nations to “increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer of marine technology (…)” and for which UNESCO’s IOC – the custodian agency – is expected to keep track of implementation.

“We need to invest massively in science and research immediately and this effort must be made collectively – all Governments and partners must share knowledge to craft common science-based policies. Within their own remit, UN-Oceans members would benefit from a global effort on ocean science and technology, and ultimately ensure that their Member States are equally informed by scientific knowledge,” he said.

Vladimir Ryabinin also highlighted the transversality and complementarity of the areas of work carried out by UN-Oceans members and how it could facilitate inter-agency information exchange and sharing of experiences. He gave the example of the World Meteorological Organization and IOC’s Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology as a best practice model.

Participants then considered the role that UN-Oceans members could play, acting as “one”. As a starting point, Vladimir Ryabinin invited all concerned UN agencies to rally behind the IOC Member States’ proposal to make 2021-2030 the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

“Sustained and global ocean science and observation is absolutely necessary to understand the impact of changing climate, to assess regional vulnerability, and to monitor the efficacy of adaptation and mitigation efforts,” he explained.

The debate concluded on the benefits that could derive from the adoption of the UN Ocean Conference “Call for Action” to enhance inter-agency cooperation and policy action: inventory of marine resources, knowledge-sharing and capacity-building of Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, better quantitative knowledge of the ocean bottom and water column ecosystems, and better understanding of cumulative stressors on the ocean.

UNESCO’s IOC is set to play a major role throughout the Conference. The Commission’s participation will notably focus on aspects related to marine pollution, impacts of ocean acidification, ecosystem-based management approaches and the contribution of marine scientific research and capacity development as a cross-cutting theme to all SDG 14 targets.

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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