20 Aug 2019 Press Release Oceans & seas

Regional brainstorming on the UN Decade of Ocean Science

Some 150 representatives from academia, governmental agencies, international organizations, industry and non-governmental organizations met in Tokyo, Japan in August 2019 to brainstorm approaches for achieving the objectives of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

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The UN Decade proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2017 endeavors to provide countries full support to achieve the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals through ocean science. The Tokyo meeting, organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific, was to raise awareness about the Decade, identify knowledge gaps and science questions, develop an understanding of existing and potential scientific initiatives, programmes, partnerships and resources, and elaborate issues on capacity-building, information sharing and communications.

Six working groups were tasked to discuss the following themes: clean ocean, healthy and resilient ocean, predicted ocean, safe ocean, sustainably harvested and productive ocean, and transparent and accessible ocean. Recommendations emerging from the discussions included to conduct additional research to better understand source, transport and fate functions of nutrients, and to provide high-quality data on a variety of chemical pollutants. The design of a comprehensive initiative to reduce plastic pollution was also suggested.

The participants highlighted that there is a need for two-way communications between scientists, public, and policymakers. For ocean predication, it is critical to develop high-resolution oceanic coupled models for seamless forecasting from weather to climate, physical-biogeochemical coupled models, forecast systems and marine ecosystem models. Meeting participants suggested enhancing partnerships with regional and transnational organizations including the Northwest Pacific Action Plan in the application of models and capacity-building.

Improving the application of science research and data will encourage investments into the technologies that provide valuable safety information to communities, noted participants. For a sustainably harvested and productive ocean, it was suggested to improve identification of ecosystem thresholds, stock assessments and monitoring of fishery removals, and develop indicators of sustainability. For new programmes and initiatives, it was suggested that these apply both to natural and social sciences. New initiatives should be community-based, bottom-up, and locally focused.

It was also suggested to accelerate efforts to bring the complete spectrum of biological data into the data system and aggregate data from biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction areas.

The Northwest Pacific Action Plan highlighted in the meeting that it is critical to convert scientific research results into policy recommendations, as research should help countries to achieve the targets set by the United Nations. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization requested the Northwest Pacific Action Plan to continue supporting the activities related to the UN Decade of Ocean Sciences.