The United Nations Decade for Ocean Science and Sustainable Development, or the UN Ocean Decade, is halfway through its second year. An opportunity to mobilize resources and strengthen initiatives contributing to a better future for our ocean, it has given endorsement to 551 actions since its beginning in 2021, addressing key issues such as marine pollution, management and restoration of marine ecosystems and the ocean-climate nexus.
“The Ocean Decade 2021-2030 aims to transform how ocean science is produced and used to develop solutions for a sustainable planet. For the Global Ocean Observing System, this means a step change in how much, how often, and how fully we observe the ocean, creating an integrated system delivering physical, biogeochemical and bioecological data, covering the polar and deep ocean, with international cooperation as the cornerstone of the ocean observing enterprise,” said Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC Executive Secretary.
On World Oceans Day, June 8, UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) announced the endorsement of 63 new Ocean Decade actions, five of which are projects under GOOS-led programmes.
GOOS-led programmes within the Ocean Decade
In 2021, GOOS launched three Ocean Decade programmes - large scale, multi-year and multi-country initiatives made up of different projects, activities and contributions that will help transform our ocean observing system and form the foundation for thriving blue economies and sustainable development:
- The Observing Together programme will improve ocean data access and availability by connecting ocean observers and the communities they serve
- The Ocean Observing Co-Design programme will transform our ocean observing system assessment and design processes by creating a system co-designed with observing, modeling and key user stakeholders
- The CoastPredict programme will revolutionize Global Coastal Ocean observing and forecasting by co-designing the needed infrastructure and offering open and free access to coastal information
In the latest UNESCO announcement, five transformative projects received endorsement under the Observing Together and CoastPredict programmes.
New projects endorsed under Observing Together
The Fisherman’s Weather Field School, a project of the Agency for Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics of the Republic of Indonesia (BMKG), works to support understanding of the information delivered by weather and ocean climate services in local fishing communities and improve safety at sea.
“In Indonesia, many activities take place in the ocean and coastal areas, and as extreme weather events are increasing, it is important for fishermen to apply knowledge about the ocean and weather patterns when they go to work,” says Nelly Florida Riama, Director of the BMKG Center of Research and Development. The recent Ocean Decade endorsement provides an opportunity to share knowledge with other countries and regions - proven to be successful in Indonesia, the initiative is proposed to be replicated in Fiji and the Philippines.
AtlantOS-Connect is another project which received endorsement under the Observing Together GOOS Ocean Decade programme. Led by the National Oceanography Centre, UK, as part of AtlantOS, the project aims to identify and foster collaborative partnerships among user communities and ocean observing and data networks in the Atlantic Ocean.
“AtlantOS is actively building formal relationships with international bodies, and AtlantOS-connect will facilitate engagement with national and regional entities, connecting observing networks and providing visibility to the common challenges, needs and opportunities of Atlantic communities,” says Prof. Penny Holliday of the UK’s National Oceanography Centre.
New projects endorsed under CoastPredict
PredictOnTime is an integrated coastal ocean observing and predicting project led by the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change Foundation. This core project of the GOOS CoastPredict programme will deliver new predictive capacities, services and products for the global coastal ocean, focused on observing and predicting natural extreme events accurately and in due time to protect lives, resources and assets.
“The project will develop relocatable, easily deployed and cost-effective pilot observing and forecasting systems in coastal areas of more than 20 nations,” says Dr. Giovanni Coppini, PredictOnTime project lead.
Another endorsed project under CoastPredict, Future Coastal Ocean Climates, is led by the National Oceanography Centre, UK, and will generate innovative, high-resolution decadal to centennial projections of future coastal ocean climates at the local-regional scales necessary for informed decision making.
“The project will use CoastPredict, other Ocean Decade programmes, and partner stakeholder networks to turn advances in understanding and predictive ability into actionable products that can inform climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions,” says Dr. Joanne Hopkins, Project lead from the UK National Oceanography Centre.
Integrating Coastal Hazard Warning Systems for TAC (Tropical Americas and Caribbean) is another newly endorsed action led by the IOC-UNESCO Regional Secretariat for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions Sub-Commission (IOCARIBE). Through co-design, co-production and co-delivery, the project will promote and facilitate greater integration of existing and new coastal hazard early warning systems and services for the region.
“Through this project, we will strengthen linkages between regional and international efforts and national and local priorities, this way enhancing and optimising the common features of the underlying infrastructure,” says Christa von Hillebrandt, Manager, International Tsunami Information Centre - Caribbean Office.
In addition, one more project under CoastPredict, Mangroves as Nature-based Solutions to Coastal Hazards in Eastern Ghana (MANCOGA), was endorsed earlier through a special MeerWissen funding call. Led by the University of Ghana and Helmholtz-Zentrum, the project will use mangroves to develop nature-based solutions addressing a variety of hazards including climate change, flooding, coastal erosion and pollution in the Ghanaian coast.
More actions underway
Several other initiatives related to GOOS programmes are underway as part of the UN Ocean Decade. The endorsement gives valuable recognition to the importance of these actions, providing an opportunity to unleash their full potential in contributing to the main objective of the Ocean Decade - the ocean we need for the future we want.