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United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)

Preparatory Process


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The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission was tasked by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to prepare and coordinate the development of an Implementation Plan for the Decade during the Preparatory Phase (2018-2020). This Implementation Plan will be submitted for approval to the 75th session of the UNGA in autumn 2020.

The Decade Roadmap: The IOC drafted a Roadmap that provides an initial guide for the steps and processes needed to develop the Implementation Plan of the Decade. It also formulates a set of preliminary objectives and identifies governance and structural arrangements. This revised Roadmap has been widely disseminated to Member States, UN bodies, including the International Maritime Organization, and IOC’s institutional partners.

As a coordinator for the Preparation Phase, the IOC will engage extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders: IOC and UN Member States, UN bodies, institutional partners, the scientific community, the economic actors/private sector, civil society and foundations.

This Implementation Plan for the Decade will include:

A Science Plan to define key issues, priority scientific questions of high relevance to sustainable development (Agenda 2030) and propose scientific themes and outcomes to structure the implementation of the Decade.


A Capacity Development Plan to improve the scientific knowledge base, transfer of marine technology and education in regions and for groups that are presently limited in capacity and capability, especially SIDS and LDCs. The Plan will provide details on the strategy and actions needed to significantly enhance the opportunities and equitable access to economic benefits arising from marine resources and technology, including from areas beyond national jurisdiction.


A Resource Mobilisation Plan to define the specific financial mechanisms critical to the success of the Decade.


A Communications and Engagement Plan to define the networking, engagement and communications tools required to involve key stakeholders and demonstrate the value the Decade will provide for society.


The overall formulation of the Decade’s Implementation Plan will be supported through four interlinked mechanisms:

An Executive Planning Group (EPG) composed of appointed experts, serves as an expert advisory body to the IOC governing bodies to support the development of the Implementation Plan for the Decade.

A Stakeholder Forum composed of institutional members, representing various interest groups, acts as a consultative body to the IOC governing bodies, and aims to engage a wide range of relevant stakeholders.

Regional workshops will communicate the purpose and expected results of the Decade to all stakeholders and will also be an opportunity to engage and consult with them, enriching EPG and Stakeholder Forum debates.

Global Planning Meetings will aim to access the status of ocean research vis-à-vis the 2030 Agenda requirements and consolidate inputs from various consultations (including the regional workshops).