A healthy ocean for all – IOC-UNESCO contributes to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

23 June 2017

The month of June 2017 saw two flagship achievements of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) come to fruition: the United Nations Ocean Conference, where IOC participated with a strong and ubiquitous presence, and the launch of the first ever Global Ocean Science Report. These undertakings were presented to the 148 Governments attending the 29th Session of the IOC Assembly.

On 23 June 2017, Salvatore Aricò, Head of the Ocean Sciences Section, recalled the successful launch of the Report on the occasion of World Oceans Day, 8 June 2017, at the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York.

He emphasized the generous support provided by the Governments of Norway, the Republic of Korea, Monaco and the Philippines.

The GOSR assesses for the first time the status and trends in ocean science capacity for generating the knowledge needed to ensure a healthy and sustainable ocean and fully harness the potential of the ocean for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

More specifically, Mr Aricò explained that the GOSR identifies and quantifies key elements of ocean science at the national, regional and global scales, including workforce, infrastructure and data. It represents the first collective attempt to systematically highlight opportunities as well as capacity gaps to advance international collaboration in ocean science and technology. It is a resource for policy-makers, academics and other stakeholders seeking to harness the potential of ocean science to address global challenges.

Following this presentation, Member States endorsed a step-by-step development of a Global Ocean Science Report Data Portal – within the framework of the Ocean Sciences Section and International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) – to give users access to data, data products and facilitate data compilation for future GOSR editions.

The full Report, in English, as well as the Executive Summary, in the six official UN languages, are available online here.

During the Assembly’s agenda item on sustainable development and governance, Julian Barbière, Head of the Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section, reaffirmed IOC’s engagement in the 2030 Agenda as several targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 are directly relevant to the Commission’s activities. They notably include marine pollution, ocean acidification, ecosystem-based management, as well as marine research capacity and transfer of marine technology as a cross-cutting element to all SDG 14 targets. SDG 13 related to climate change is also highly relevant to IOC’s work.

Mr Barbière recalled that IOC is also playing an active role in the definition of a global SDG indicator framework for specific targets, namely targets 14.3.1 and 14.A.1, where the Commission is identified as the UN “custodian agency” by the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDG). This framework is the mechanism by which Member States will report national implementation of all SDG targets to the UN.

Currently, these indicators – and most SDG 14 indicators – have no established methodology and standards, or the methodology and standards remain in testing phase. Under this custodianship role, IOC will work on developing the indicator process and underlying data standards for the two above-mentioned targets, before the indicators are operational and routinely measured by Member States for SDG reporting, using possibly IODE national mechanism.

Methodology proposals were presented to IOC Member States for endorsement before submission to the IAEG-SDG. Once the given indicator is cleared by the IAEG-SDG, data collection will be implemented by IOC and feed the yearly Sustainable Development Goals Report as well as the supporting online database.

For more information, please contact:

Salvatore Aricò (s.arico(at)unesco.org), for information about the Global Ocean Science Report.

Julian Barbière (j.barbiere(at)unesco.org), for information about the SDG indicators review process.