United Nations Ocean Conference

Partnerships & Commitments

Towards the Ocean We Need for the Future We Want

At the first-ever UN Ocean Conference, UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and its partners are calling for 2021-2030 to become the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

This is our foremost commitment to achieve the targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 14 to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” requires novel science-based solutions and their systematic transformation into informed policies and decisions. Assembling actions by all relevant stakeholders - including governments, the UN System, civil society and the private sector - the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development could provide Member States worldwide with a framework for coordinating and consolidating the observations and research needed to achieve SDG14.


See all voluntary commitments put forward by UNESCO and its Partners:

Proposal for International Decade on Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development

Partners: IOC on behalf of its member states, UN agencies, Scientific institutions in Member States, Academia, International Science Unions and the private sector

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) and its partners are calling for 2021-2030 to become the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. This Decade of Ocean Science would provide a framework for concerted action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 14 to: “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

Global Ocean Science Report: The Current State of Ocean Science Around the World

Partners: Monaco, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Korea

Monaco, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Korea
Monaco, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Korea

The Global Ocean Science Report (GOSR) assesses for the first time the status and trends in ocean science capacity around the world. The report offers a global record of who, how, and where ocean science is conducted: generating knowledge, helping to protect ocean health, and empowering society to support sustainable ocean management in the framework of the United Nations Agenda 2030.


Ocean Literacy for all: a global strategy to raise the awareness for the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of our ocean

Partners: College of Exploration, Consortium for Ocean Science Exploration and Engagement, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, European Marine Science Educators Association, World Ocean Network, Ocean Frontier Institute, Ciencia Viva, Italian Network on Ocean Literacy, Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, Asia Marine Educators Association, Canadian Network for Ocean Literacy (CaNOE)

The focus of the Ocean Literacy for ALL initiative is to develop a global partnership to raise the awareness on the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of our ocean and its resources and to build an improved public knowledge base across the world’s population regarding our global ocean. Deliverables: Organization of a global online one month long workshop on ocean literacy; online platform to share resources, projects and people on ocean literacy for sustainable development; comprehensive ocean literacy training programme for business, policy, and education sectors; Development of an ‘ocean school’ programme

Build a global network of Blue Carbon Knowledge Nodes for Science and Policy

Partners: Blue Carbon Initiative, Blue Carbon Science Network, Conservation International, IUCN, IOC-UNESCO, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

In the next 5 years, the Blue Carbon Initiative, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and our partners will build a global network of regional nodes for blue carbon data and knowledge exchange. This Network will establish an international community of research scientists and practitioners to effectively leverage coastal wetland carbon science for purposes ranging widely from basic research to policy development to management.

Develop research capacity and transfer of marine technology through the UNESCO/IOC Regional Network of Training and Research Centers (RTRCs) on Marine Science in the Western Pacific and adjacent regions in support of the SDG 14.a

Partners: IOC-UNESCO (WESTPAC), universities, institutions and competent government agencies of the UN Member States in the region and ocean-related global programs

This voluntary commitment aims to develop and strengthen research capacity of UN Member States in the region through the UNESCO/IOC regional network of training and research centers on marine science. The RTRC network has been initiated in 2010 by IOC for the region, aiming to improve regional capability and capacity on marine science in a sustainable and systematic manner, through the establishment of IOC Regional Training and Research Centers (RTRCs) in national oceanographic institutes or universities, and regular provision in these Centers of training and research opportunities on their domains of focus to young scientists mainly from developing countries within and outside the region. Till present, two RTRCs have been established, respectively in China on Ocean Dynamics & Climate and in Indonesia on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health, with regular trainings being provided to all UN Member States mainly those in the region. Two or three other RTRC are under development with focus to addressing other key regional issues.

Joint Roadmap to accelerate Marine Spatial Planning at the worldwide

Partners: IOC-UNESCO and European Commission (Directorate General for Maritime Affairs)

The sustainable use of the oceans and their biodiversity depends on appropriate planning and management of human uses. Marine/maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) plays a vital role in that sense: in maximizing the potential of maritime activities and uses, ensuring space for their development, arbitrating in case of conflicts it can bring long-term stability and transparency for economic operators whilst ensuring that we do not oppress the health of the marine environment. This roadmap identifies common priorities and concrete proposals for actions to be implemented in the coming years to encourage the development of marine/maritime spatial planning in all seas and oceans of the globe with the objective to triple the area of territorial waters benefiting from marine spatial planning by 2030.

Science for Deep-Ocean Sustainability

Partners: Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (Scientific community), Deep Ocean Observing Strategy (Scientific community), International Network for Scientific Investigation of Deep-Sea Ecosystems (Scientific Community)

DOSI, DOOS, and INDEEP will work to build global scientific capacity to address SDG 14 targets as they relate to the deep ocean (> 200 m). Through our partnership network of more than 1,000 deep-sea scientists and other stakeholders, DOSI, INDEEP and DOOS will coordinate cross-disciplinary integration to increase scientific knowledge, develop skills and harness technology to address current and expected human impacts including those related to climate change. We will work to advance understanding of deep-ocean ecosystems within and beyond national jurisdictions in order to facilitate the achievement of SDG Targets 14.2, 14.3, 14.5, 14.7, 14.a and 14.c.

United Nations World Oceans Day Online Portal

Partners: IOC-UNESCO, UN-OCEANS, World Ocean Network, The Ocean Project, Suez and all other organizations in the Steering Group

Every year on 8 June, countries all over the world celebrate “World Oceans Day” to raise global awareness about the benefits humankind derives from the ocean. Any individual or organization can participate in this global celebration through the United Nations World Oceans Day Portal. http://UNWorldOceansDay.org is your portal to hear about, publicize and join all world oceans day events happening around the world. The more you interact with the portal, the more it will reflect what you and your community are doing! This year, UNESCO's IOC invites all citizens and stakeholders to celebrate and promote global ocean science during World Oceans Day. Ocean science and knowledge is the only way to ensuring a sustainable relationship between the oceans and humankind.

  • Official entry on registry of voluntary commitments (Coming soon)
  • Media release (Coming soon)

Capacity Development Supporting the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 and the Transfer of Marine Technology within the SIDS

Partners: IOC-UNESCO, OceanTeacher Global Academy Network and SIDS

This voluntary commitment aims at strengthening and expand the existing network of Regional Training Centres of the OceanTeacher Global Academy (OTGA) of IOC/IODE, which is being established since 2015, currently including 7 Regional Training Centre across the world, none of them however focusing or based on the SIDS. This voluntary commitment will thus specifically focus on strengthening the delivery of CD for the SIDS, although with global benefits.

Enhancing global ocean acidification monitoring and research

Partners: IOC-UNESCO, GOA-ON, The Ocean Foundation, SPREP, UNESCO-IOC, IAEA, US NOAA, University of Washington, CSIRO and the University of Gothenburg

We are committed to distributing kits that will allow scientists in resource-poor countries to collect data and contribute to the global ocean acidification monitoring effort, providing stipendiary support to maintain those kits, and to creating international networking opportunities for early-career and experienced scientists through the Pier2Peer program.

Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN)

Partners: International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), UN Environment, France, United States Department of State, Australia, International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), UN Environment, IOC of UNESCO, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), IUCN, CORDIO East Africa, CRIOBE, CEP/SPAW-RAC, SPREP, Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans; national agencies, academic and research institutes and civil society organisations from around the world.

GCRMN is the world’s premier coral reef data network, bringing together a range of government and non-government partners in tracking status and trends of the world's coral reefs. GCRMN covers biophysical variables as well as socioeconomic variables, through the 'SocMon' initiative. The main activity of GCRMN is the preparation of regional and global periodic assessments on the status and trends of coral reefs. This is enabled through development of core variables/indicators, recommended best practice in terms of methodology, and a range of evolving data products and services. GCRMN is an Operational Network of ICRI, led at the global level by the ICRI Secretariat and UN Environment (as per resolution on GCRMN adopted at ICRI General Meeting 3 and UNEA resolution 2/12). A working group, convened by ICRI Secretariat and UN Environment, functions as a Steering Group as well as a Technical Working Group of GCRMN. At the regional level GCRMN regional committees catalyse monitoring and reporting and lead the preparation of regional reports.

Improving the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage Worldwide

Partners: UNESCO (Secretariat of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage), UNESCO Unitwin Network for Underwater Archaeology (universities) and UNESCO accredited NGOs

UNESCO commits to continue its engagement to improve the protection of the underwater cultural heritage, which is including ancient shipwrecks, sunken cities, and traces of human existence on prehistoric submerged landscapes. Its most important tool to do so is the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage of 2001. Activities, such as intergovernmental meetings, regional trainings and technical assistance missions as well as awareness-raising campaigns are scheduled to further the protection of underwater cultural heritage worldwide.

Advancing solutions oriented integrative ocean sustainability research within the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network (Ocean KAN)

Partners: Future Earth, WCRP-CLIVAR, IOC-UNESCO, ICSU-SCOR , Future Ocean , Future Earth Coasts , IMBeR , SOLAS , PAGES , bioDISCOVERY , Earth System Governance and IOC-UNESCO's Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS)

A recently established multi-stakeholder platform the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network (Ocean KAN) is supported by the international programmes Future Earth and its marine Global Research Projects, WCRP-CLIVAR, IOC-UNESCO and ICSU-SCOR, and aims at advancing integrated ocean research globally to chart a course from knowledge of ocean systems to changes in policies, practices, governance and behaviours that will support sustaining those systems. In a bottom-up process the Ocean KAN facilitates the formation of transdisciplinary teams and new integrative initiatives that will address these challenges by co-designing scalable and integrated systems-approaches in collaboration with natural and social sciences, economics and engineering, as well as policymakers, resource managers, businesses and industries, civil societies and other societal partners. It will also generate new research and partnerships to ensure fast track response to pressing societal questions and the implementation of SDG14.

Roadmap to Oceans and Climate Action (ROCA)

Partners: Global Ocean Forum, United Nations Fisheries and Agriculture Organization; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO; UN Environment; Ocean Policy Research Institute, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan (NGO); Oceano Azul Foundation, Portugal (NGO)

The Roadmap to Oceans and Climate Action (ROCA) is a multi-stakeholder initiative involving governments, international agencies, NGOs, scientific institutions, private sector, and subnational authorities to advance the oceans and climate agenda (especially in the UNFCCC, the UN Ocean Conference, and in other United Nations fora), and at the national level in all countries. ROCA was launched at the UNFCCC COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco. The ROCA works to implement the Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016-2021, first discussed at the Oceans Day at COP 21 in Paris 2015, and then prepared in detail by 37 international experts throughout 2016 and highlighted at the Oceans Action Day at COP 22 Marrakech (November 12, 2016). The Roadmap presents analyses and recommendations in six major areas: Central of role of oceans in regulating climate, mitigation, adaptation and Blue Economy, displacement, financing, and capacity development, for implementation in the next 5 years.

Pacific Ocean Research Alliance

Partners: Pacific Community, Australia Bureau of Meteorology Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, University of Washington, The Ocean Policy Research Institute, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, UNESCO-IOC, IAEA, Institut de recherche pour le développement

Taking the example of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance as a model, with a focus on both coastal and pelagic areas, we see an opportunity for a Pacific Ocean Research Alliance to: (1) Source and provide marine data, required to measure ecosystem status and progress toward SDGs and MEA targets. Joint actions will create synergies and efficiencies, minimise competition for funding options, and enhance the overall capacity and speed of marine science growth in the region; (2)Connect international, regional and national actors, including marine scientists and ocean policy experts, coordinating the (presently limited) marine data collection projects and programmes; (3) Build Pacific capacity for marine research, informed marine management, and international ocean advocacy through field research experiences, mentoring networks, and scientific writing development and practice; and (4) Support the Pacific Ocean Alliance and the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, which is presently operating with limited resources to support regional ocean management/policy.

The Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification

Partners: New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, University of Washington, The Ocean Foundation, New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, IOC-UNESCO, IAEA Environment Lab/OA-ICC, Institut de recherche pour le développement

Pacific island communities and ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of ocean acidification and ocean warming. The Partnership builds on the outcomes of the International Workshop on Ocean Acidification: State-of-the-Science Considerations for Small Island Developing States that was co-hosted by New Zealand and the United States, in partnership with SPREP, as an official side-event at the 3rd UN SIDS Conference in 2014. The Partnership builds on the New Zealand Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification project, which is a collaborative effort between SPREP, SPC, USP and the Pacific island countries and territories, with support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Principality of Monaco. Efforts are currently underway to scale up these efforts, and the Partnership will be a key part of new actions.