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UNESCO Category 2 Centres & the Ocean



IOC & Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO

IOC promotes international cooperation in marine research, oceanographic services, observation systems and marine hazards mitigation. Capacity development at the regional level is an essential component of IOC’s mission. One important objective is to improve the operational oceanographic capabilities of Member States through training and transfer of manpower and technology.

The IOC seeks adequacy and adaptation of its global objectives to the needs and the aspirations at the regional level.This aim relies on existing structures which arerecognized as regional centres of expertise/excellence.

What are the Category 2 Centres?

  • Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO form an important part of UNESCO’s network, constitute considerable resource of the Organization and represent an effective partnership model. They assume increasing importance in achieving the organization’s programme priorities and serve in their fields of specialization as international or regional centres and poles of expertize/excellence to provide technical assistance and services to Member States, partners and UNESCO-IOC networks in the regions. The centres provide a response to the increasing demand for regional marine research and education and assists in meeting national and regional priorities.
  • UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission works closely with 3 Category 2 Centres. They contribute to the objectives of IOC related to reduction of the impacts of natural hazards, adaptation to climate change and variability, safeguarding the health of ocean and coastal ecosystems, and contribution to the sustainability of the coastal and ocean environment. The Category 2 Centres in oceanography contribute to the Commission’s priorities with a focus on capacity development. They support the objectives of the Commission’s sub-commissions/committees and are instrumental in the major initiatives of IOC such as the second International Indian Ocean Expedition, the Global Ocean Science Report and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

1. Regional Research Centre on Oceanography for West Asia (RCOWA) -  Iran (Islamic Republic of) (2015, extended until 31 January 2023)

The centre is established under the auspices of UNESCO in the Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Science (INIOAS). The centre by its activities creates the basis for the best scientific understanding of the processes going on in the marine and coastal environment of the geographical area covering the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Caspian Sea. It assists Member States of the region in achieving sustainable development and facilitating regional partnership and co-operation. The centre develops regional marine and coastal management policy, by identifying and meeting national and regional priorities through sharing knowledge and experience, by operating education and training programmes and raising public awareness concerning the need for sustainable management of sea and coastal areas. In its regional dimension, the centre assists the IOC Regional Committee for the Central Indian Ocean (IOCINDIO) in meeting its objectives, especially in the area of data and information collection and management by the formulation of the ODINCINDIO programme (Ocean Data and Information Network for the Central Indian Ocean Region).

2. International Training Centre on Operational Oceanography - Hyderabad, India (2018)

The centre is hosted by the Indian Centre for Ocean Information (INCOIS) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences. The mission of the Centre is to assist the countries on the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR), African countries bordering the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and small island countries in the development and optimization of oceanographic scientific base, related technology and information systems and to create a vast pool of trained ocean scientists to cater the growing demands of operational oceanography services. The Centre contributes to define regional and global problems and priorities, the solution of which requires regional and international cooperation and assist in the identification of training, education, and mutual assistance needs, particularly those related to IOC and Centre programmes. In its regional dimension, the centre assists the IOC Regional Committee for the Central Indian Ocean (IOCINDIO) in meeting its objectives, especially in the area of data and information collection and management by the formulation of the ODINCINDIO programme (Ocean Data and Information Network for the Central Indian Ocean Region).


3. International Centre for Capacity Development: Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Societal Change (GRÓ) – Fisheries Training Programme (FTP) – Reykjavik, Iceland (2020) (First UNESCO cross-sectorial Centre)

GRÓ comprises four training programmes which aims at strengthening organizational, institutional and individual capacities in developing countries. Fisheries Training Programme (FTP) is one of them. GRÓ-FTP is hosted within the Icelandic Marine and Freshwater Research Institute. It aspires to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by promoting the sustainable use of living aquatic resources in less developed countries. Its objectives are to strengthen capacities by providing excellence in training, education, and research opportunities, by facilitating the professional growth of fisheries professionals and by placing cooperation, capacity building, knowledge-sharing and research at the forefront of its mission. The core activity of GRÓ-FTP is an annual six-month training programme in Iceland which aims to strengthen the professional capacity of GRÓ-FTP Fellows to actively contribute to work done in their organisations and to recognise development potential in their home countries. FTP has since 1998 trained over 400 fellows from more than 60 countries and conducted short courses and workshops all over the world. GRÓ-FTP looks forward to working closely with UNESCO and the IOC to strengthen cooperation on capacity development in fisheries and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Other UNESCO sector concerned: Natural Sciences

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