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UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

18 / May / 2021Ecosystems

UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

A new decade-long initiative to support countries in advancing sustainable development of the world’s oceans.

The United Nations has marked the next 10 years as a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to lead efforts in mitigating the deterioration and decline of the health of the world’s oceans, to ensure that the new initiative is able to support nations in the drive for sustainable development around the world.

Nearly three quarters of the world’s surface is covered by oceans. These waters play a significant role in stabilising climatic conditions to support life on the planet. However, many parts of the marine realm have become severely degraded, according to the First World Ocean Assessment in 2016, with extensive change and reduction in the structure, function and benefits reaped from marine systems.

Sustainable development requires a fundamental scientific understanding of ocean responses to pressures and management policies. Policies based on science and developing adaptive strategies is essential and needed to understand global change. At present, neither the scientific understanding nor the adaptive strategies will be able to reverse the damage done already without intervention and oversight. Although the last 20-30 years have generated large amounts of data from marine systems around the world, the policies and regulations required to integrate this knowledge have been insufficient and slow. Better coordination and integration are needed to drive the decision-driving process for management actions.

As such, the decade-long initiative provides a unique opportunity to help strengthen marine management for the benefit of all communities and countries. Mandated by the UN General Assembly, coordination of the Decade’s preparatory process will be overseen by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) under UNESCO. With the help of strong international assistance, the Decade will strengthen scientific research and technologies to be better equipped to manage societal needs by improving connections, promote collaborations and weave relationships throughout all communities around the world including:

  • A clean ocean where sources of pollution are identified and removed
  • A healthy and resilient ocean where marine ecosystems are mapped and protected
  • A predictable ocean where society has the capacity to understand current and future ocean conditions
  • A safe ocean where people are protected from ocean hazards
  • A sustainably harvested ocean ensuring the provision of food supply
  • It is hoped that the Decade will have a significant impact on many countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals needed to protect our oceans and maintain its health for future generations.


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