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UNESCO issues new scientific summary for policymakers for effective management of multiple ocean stressors

Date: 17 March 2022

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) published a new Scientific Summary on Multiple Ocean Stressors for policy makers, offering a reference to better understand and manage the cumulative impacts of multiple  ocean stressors. 

This new publication provides a conceptual overview of multiple ocean stressors and guidance on how to manage their impacts on marine ecosystems through a science and ecosystem-based approach.

The ocean is under cumulative stress from a range of pressures at various scales – local, regional and global. Examples include warming and acidification; ozone, litter and atmospheric pollutants; and sedimentation, pollution and nutrient runoff. Policymakers need to invest in innovative science solutions to navigate the complex interplay between these stressors and effectively address the resulting impacts, ensuring a sustainable future for an ocean currently in declining health.

The impact of multiple ocean stressors together and their interplay on marine life and ecosystem functions is not well understood, but it remains a central issue in developing solutions to monitor, protect, manage and restore ecosystems and their biodiversity under changing environmental, social and climate conditions.

The new UNESCO publication is a first step towards increased socio-ecological resilience to multiple ocean stressors. Its main objective is to connect policymakers to the scientific community, facilitating a transition from the observation of single  stressors to the understanding of their combined effect and the proactive engagement around finding policy solutions.

The Scientific Summary aims to help coordinate action to better understand how multiple stressors interact and how cumulative pressures they cause can be tackled and managed.

Improved understanding of how multiple ocean stressors impact the ocean will help to achieve several expected outcomes and meet the challenges of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (‘The Ocean Decade’).

“The Ocean Decade stipulates multiple stressors as a key challenge for managing the ocean, in the future and already now. This SSPM aims to summarize the scientific knowledge, focus further research, and develop action strategies for addressing the complex impact of multiple ocean stressors on marine ecosystems, with a view of increasing resilience of the ocean and communities relying on its resources and services,” says Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of IOC-UNESCO.

The “Ocean Decade” seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyse new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. With its vision “the science we need for the ocean we want, the “Ocean Decade”, builds on transformative science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and the ocean.

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UNESCO Scientific Summary on Multiple Ocean Stressors

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About IOC-UNESCO:

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) promotes international cooperation in marine sciences to improve management of the ocean, coasts and marine resources. The IOC enables its 150 Member States to work together by coordinating programmes in capacity development, ocean observations and services, ocean science and tsunami warning. The work of the IOC contributes to the mission of UNESCO to promote the advancement of science and its applications to develop knowledge and capacity, key to economic and social progress, the basis of peace and sustainable development.

About the Ocean Decade: 

The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (Ocean Decade) provides a convening framework for scientists, governments, academia, businesses, industry and civil society to develop the transformative solutions and partnerships needed to achieve a better understanding and protection of the ocean. These science-based advances will contribute to achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade. http://oceandecade.org