The IOC strives to increase knowledge about the ocean and coastal areas, and to apply that knowledge for the improvement of management, sustainable development, protection of the marine environment, and the decision-making processes of its 150 Member States.

The IOC participates in numerous ocean related global partnerships and forums to bridge the science-policy interface. It provides relevant and timely technical advice to governments and policy-makers to make informed decisions on scientific issues related to ocean management at the national and global levels and to develop policy to support the development of a sustainable ocean economy. In order to bring the scientific and policy-making communities closer together and encourage mutual understanding, IOC promotes ongoing dialogue, access to a wide range of scientific assessments and targeted capacity development initiatives to strengthen the science-policy interface at all levels.

IOC is a participant or observer in key global discussions related to the ocean including the High Level Political Form for the 2030 Agenda, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) processes. IOC routinely provides technical and scientific support to a number of global assessments relevant to the ocean, such as the UN World Ocean Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as well as assessment initiative of other UN agencies such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), CBD and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). It supports Member States engaging in these processes for example by developing policy briefs providing scientific and technical analyses for use by negotiators, and decision-makers.