Ocean science and capacity development: key elements of a post-2015 development agenda

Marine technology transfer, ocean science and capacity building are essential pillars to support the implementation of a dedicated ocean sustainable development goals currently being negotiated by Member States in the post-2015 development agenda.

On 21 April, a side event entitled: Building ocean knowledge, technology and capacity towards achieving sustainable development of the ocean and seas was organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) together with the UN Division on Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), at UN headquarters in New York. The event was co-chaired by HE Ambassador P. Thomson (Fiji), and HE Ambassador Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), and took place during the intergovernmental negotiation on post-2015 development.

An expert panel discussed and exchanged experience on possible means to increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer of marine technology, taking into account the IOC Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology in support of sustainable development, as currently framed in the proposed target 14 a for the Ocean SDG.

Mr. Thembile Joyini, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations focused his intervention on ongoing negotiations for the adoption of the Envisaged UNCLOS Implementing Agreement (UNCLOS IA) for the conservation of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, and in particular to the need for defining a new framework for the transfer of marine technology, including data sharing mechanism.

Ms. Asha Singh, Head, Ocean Governance Unit, Commission of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States described the establishment of an Eastern Caribbean Marine Research Platform to support regional ocean governance.

Mr. Daniel Pettersson, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations described activities that his country is undertaking to support of marine science and marine scientific research through international cooperation.

Ms. Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director, DOALOS described the capacity development activities that her Division implements in the framework of UNCLOS.

Mr. Julian Barbière, Head, Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section, IOC highlighted the role of science and technology in ocean sustainable development, and presented the IOC guidelines on Transfer of Marine Technology, as well as the Global Ocean Science Report as a possible mechanism to measure countries investment in marine science. He also highlighted the importance of delivering capacities through regional mechanism such as the Global Ocean Teacher Academy.

In conclusion, there was agreement that the implementation of the post 2015 agenda, including the stand alone SDG on Ocean, should be based on an integrated scientific approach and grounded in the best available knowledge. Sustained ocean observations and science are essential to better understand and assess the role and potential value of healthy marine and coastal ecosystems.

There was also recognition that our knowledge of the ocean is sparse and many developing nations still lack the basic scientific infrastructures, human skills and technological advancement needed so that they can derive benefits from the ocean in a sustainable way. Global intergovernmental cooperation is a ‘must’ to fill knowledge gaps and to raise the capacity of developing nations, in particular LDCs and SIDS.

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