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New agreement between UN bodies aims to advance science-based sustainable ocean business into the Ocean Decade

Date: 4 September 2020

Reinforcing their shared commitment to advance science-based sustainable ocean business, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the UN Global Compact signed a letter of intent to mobilize the private sector around the framework and expected outcomes of the upcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), Ocean Decade for short.

The Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business of the UN Global Compact will play a key role in mobilizing the private sector in the upcoming Ocean Decade, which is scheduled to start in January 2021. The Decade will offer a unique opportunity for the private sector and science to work together to increase ocean knowledge and shape it into sustainable solutions for society’s 21st Century challenges, from climate change to food security. 

Together, the UN agencies will continue to foster science-industry collaboration for a sustainable and thriving blue economy. Rapid declines in ocean health and marine ecosystems underscore the urgent need to intensify collaboration. Advancing science-based ocean business is essential to balance the need for a clean, healthy and productive ocean with the strong growth in ocean industries required to achieve the Global Goals.

Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s IOC, welcomed the new partnership as key to delivering on the Decade’s promises of inclusivity: “As a collaborative framework, the Ocean Decade will be uniquely positioned to convene stakeholders from scientific disciplines and ocean industries to work together, leverage expertise and resources, as well as accelerate ocean knowledge creation and the implementation of impactful solutions. The UN Global Compact will play a key role in bringing the private sector voice into the Decade framework of action to deliver the ocean we want."

Sturla Henriksen, UN Global Compact Special Advisor, Ocean, said: “Put simply. Better ocean science and stronger science-industry collaboration has numerous benefits for both the planet and the private sector, ranging from cost savings to predictable, stable supply chains and increased market shares. We are delighted to formalize our commitment to science-based ocean business and to the Ocean Decade”.

UNESCO’s IOC and the UN Global Compact recently published the report Advancing Science for Sustainable Ocean Business, clearly outlining the opportunities for the private sector to support the Ocean Decade’s objectives. The UN Global Compact has also identified key opportunities for science-industry collaboration in a new report released today, the Blue Resilience Brief, which outlines areas where scaling-up joint science-industry action could enhance the resilience of three blue economy areas and contribute towards a more sustainable future.

The Letter of Intent between the two organizations foresees joint activities around multiple axes of cooperation to facilitate science-industry participation in the Decade, co-organize and deliver interactive dialogues and business networking events, foster industry participation in data sharing and ocean management activities, and stimulate innovation ecosystems for accelerating science-based solutions to deliver the ocean we want by 2030.


For more information, please contact:

Julian Barbière, UN Ocean Decade Focal Point, UNESCO’s IOC ( sends e-mail))

For media inquiries, please contact:

Vinicius Lindoso, Communications Officer, UNESCO's IOC ( sends e-mail))


About UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), established in 1960 as a body with functional autonomy within UNESCO, is the only competent organization for marine science within the UN system. The purpose of the Commission is to promote international cooperation and to coordinate programmes in research, services and capacity-building, in order to learn more about the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas and to apply that knowledge for the improvement of management, sustainable development, the protection of the marine environment, and the decision-making processes of its Member States. In addition, IOC is recognized through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the competent international organization in the fields of Marine Scientific Research (Part XIII) and Transfer of Marine Technology (Part XIV).

About the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

In 2017 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) ("the Ocean Decade") to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation and thus reverse declines in the state of the ocean system while catalysing new opportunities for sustainable ocean uses. The vision of the Ocean Decade is "the science we need for the ocean we want". The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

About the Sustainable Ocean Business Action Platform

The Sustainable Ocean Business Action Platform of the United Nations Global Compact convenes leading actors from business, academia and Government institutions to determine how ocean industries can advance progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The work of the platform also builds upon the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, which outline business responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

About the United Nations Global Compact

As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Launched in 2000, the mandate of the UN Global Compact is to guide and support the global business community in advancing UN goals and values through responsible corporate practices. With more than 10,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 60 Local Networks, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world.