Explore the Decade


OceanObs’19 Conference Statement

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO

United Nations / Ocean Science & Technology / Ocean Policy & Sustainable Development / Business & Industry / Donors & Foundations

Between September 16 - 20, the "OceanObs’19" event (Hawaii) galvanized the ocean observing community to improve response to scientific and societal needs of a fit-for-purpose integrated ocean observing system, for better understanding the environment of the Earth, monitoring climate, and informing adaptation strategies as well as the sustainable use of ocean resources. The participants adopted the following statement.

We, the participants of the decadal OceanObs’19 Conference, hear the call from maritime stakeholders, operational resource management agencies, and researchers from private and public organizations about the importance of more complete and sustained observations in the ocean globally. Information about the ocean is needed to advance the understanding of the ocean system, strengthen security and safety at sea, mitigate the risk of disasters including those related to a changing climate, reduce pollution and harmful debris, and inform efforts to conserve life in the sea for the benefit of future generations. It is required to design and support policy options that sustain ocean-related human benefits.

In solidarity, w e, the global ocean observing community and users of this information, invite all governments, international organizations, industries, scientists, engineers, stewards of ocean resources, members of civil society, Indigenous societies, youth and all of us who live, work and rely on the ocean to engage in a collective effort to evolve ocean observing to generate the data and information we need for the ocean we want. And specifically, to:

  • Engage observers, data integrators, information providers, and users from the scientific, public, private, and policy sectors in the continuous process of planning, implementation and review of an integrated and effective ocean observing system; 
  • Focus the ocean observing system on addressing critical human needs, scientific understanding of the ocean and the linkages to the climate system, real time ocean information services, and promotion of policies that sustain a healthy, biologically diverse, and resilient ocean ecosystem; 
  • Harness the creativity of the academic research and engineering communities, and work in partnership with the private and public sectors to evolve sensors and platforms, better integrate observations, revolutionize information products about the ocean, and increase efficiency and reduce costs at each step of the ocean observing value chain; 
  • Advance the frontiers of ocean observing capabilities from the coast to the deep ocean, all aspects of the marine biome, disease vectors, pollutants, and exchanges of energy, chemicals and biology at the boundaries between the ocean and air, seafloor, land, ice, freshwater, and human populated areas; 
  • Improve the uptake of ocean data in models for understanding and forecasting of the Earth system; 
  • Ensure that all elements of the observing system are interoperable and that data are managed wisely, guided by open data policies and that data are shared in a timely manner; 
  • Use best practices, standards, formats, vocabularies, and the highest ethics in the collection and use of ocean data; 
  • Involve the public through citizen-engaged observations, information products, outreach, and formal education programs;
  • Evolve ocean observing governance to learn and share, coordinate, identify priorities, increase diversity, promote partnerships, and resolve conflicts, through a process of continuing assessment to improve observing; and 
  • Promote investments in ocean observing and information delivery and sustain support.

Indicators based on ocean observations help nations meet national goals and targets of the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway. Ocean observations are fundamental to increase the scientific and information content of indicators, contribute to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) and are coordinated by Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

Realizing all the benefits of ocean observing requires ongoing science, plans, models and forecasts to generate knowledge for society. Partnerships are at the heart of building and sustaining such an ocean observing system. Partnerships will augment ocean observing capacity, facilitate sharing of infrastructure, promote best practices, build capacity, foster diversity, and develop innovative technologies and approaches. All nations and all stakeholders will benefit by working together on these goals.


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