• World
  • Feb 04

UNESCO marks the start of Ocean Decade

• The UNESCO marked the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development with a global online event.

• The event, which was organised by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission  (ICO), also considered how to bring together activists of all ages and continents to achieve the ocean we want. It was the first of the Ocean Decade events.

What is Ocean Decade?

• On December 5, 2017, the United Nations declared that a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development would be held from 2021 to 2030. 

• This Decade will provide a common framework to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

• The Decade will provide an opportunity to create a new foundation, across the science-policy interface, to strengthen the management of our oceans and coasts for the benefit of humanity.

• It will also contribute to the UN processes protecting the ocean and its resources, such as the Aichi Biodiversity targets, the SAMOA Pathway, the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

• The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has been tasked by the UN General Assembly to work with all interested stakeholders to design a Decade of ocean science that will help us to deliver the ocean we need for the future we want.

The primary goals of the Decade:

• To provide ocean science, data and information to inform policy for a well-functioning ocean in support of all sustainable development goals of the Agenda 2030.

• To generate scientific knowledge and underpinning infrastructure and partnerships.

What is the role of IOC?

• The IOC of UNESCO is the UN body responsible for supporting global ocean science and services. This organisation enables its 149 Member States to work together to protect the health of our shared ocean by coordinating programmes in ocean observations, hazard mitigation, tsunami warnings and marine spatial planning.

• The IOC also provides a focus for other UN organisations and agencies with regard to ocean science, observations and data exchange. 

• A primary focus of the IOC is to enable its Member States to build the scientific and institutional capacity needed to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably manage ocean and marine resources by 2030.

Significance of the Ocean Decade

• The ocean is our planet’s largest ecosystem. It stabilises climate, stores carbon, produces oxygen, nurtures unimaginable biodiversity, and directly supports human well-being through food, mineral, and energy resources as well as provides cultural and recreational services.

• As the world population will reach an estimated nine billion people by 2050, impacts on the ocean associated with human activities will increase. Action can only be effective if it is based on sound knowledge informed by science. 

• Ocean science can help us to address impacts from climate change, marine pollution, ocean acidification, the loss of marine species and degradation of marine and coastal environments. To achieve sustainable development, good science is needed to inform policies and raise the knowledge bar of all stakeholders.

• The Decade will provide a unifying framework across the UN system to enable countries to achieve all of their ocean-related Agenda 2030 priorities. 

• For example, the Decade will help strengthen the development and implementation of science-based solutions for fisheries management. This alone will have a significant impact on helping many countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals needed to support the health and wellbeing of their communities and to achieve food security.

The Decade aims to achieve:

• A clean ocean where sources of pollution are identified and removed.

• A healthy and resilient ocean where marine ecosystems are mapped and protected. 

• A predictable ocean where society has the capacity to understand current and future ocean conditions.

• A safe ocean where people are protected from ocean hazards.

• A sustainably harvested and productive ocean ensuring the provision of food supply.

• A transparent ocean with open access to data, information and technologies.

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