Ocean Decade. A milestone moment for the future generations

Milan chosen as host city for the opening event celebrating the Ocean Decade.

“Verso la Generazione Oceano”, this is the name of the event organized by the Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) in partnership with Worldrise, an non-profit organization that develops projects to preserve and safeguard the marine environment.

The event took place last week in live streaming and was attended by Mariasole Bianco, President of Worldrise and Francesca Santoro Programme Specialist at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

How important is the ocean?

From an economic point of view, the ocean is of monumental importance. In 2010 the ocean economy generated over 30 million direct, full-time jobs, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ocean’s economic output had been predicted to reach US$3 trillion by 2030.

We owe 7 breaths out of 10 to the ocean.

It generates between 50% and 80% of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs a third of the carbon dioxide (CO₂), emitted into the atmosphere.

It hosts the largest habitat on the planet, but only 5% of the seabed has been explored to date.

But now the ocean is under threat.

Multiple impacts, from land-based and sea-based activities, affect over 40% of the ocean’s surface. Deoxygenation is creating ocean ‘dead zones’ and harmful algal blooms, which are generating significant risks for human health and economies.

What can we do to help the conservation of the ocean?

We have to act. Marine scientific research and technological innovation are essential to guarantee the health of the planet. The involvement of young generations is crucial because we have to act today to create the scientists of tomorrow — the “Ocean generation”.

What is the mission of the Ocean Decade?

The Ocean Decade wants to promote an ocean science that fosters participation of all stakeholders with a focus on a holistic vision of the marine ecosystem and the most effective ways to ensure its integrity and sustainable use.

The mission of the Ocean Decade is ‘to catalyse transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and our ocean’.

The Ocean Decade will be implemented on a voluntary basis within the legal framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Ocean Decade will facilitate the generation of data, information and knowledge needed to move from the ‘ocean we have’ to the ‘ocean we want’.

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Ocean decad goals

What does the Ocean Decade aim to achieve?

The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘The science we need for the ocean we want’.

Three main goals:

  • Identify required knowledge for sustainable development, and increase the capacity of ocean science to deliver needed ocean data and information
  • Build capacity and generate comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the ocean including human interactions, and interactions with the atmosphere, cryosphere and the land sea interface.
  • Increase the use of ocean knowledge and understanding, and develop capacity to contribute to sustainable development solutions

The Ocean Decade is being prepared in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed the world, and ocean science, forever.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of science and knowledge for decision-making and policy.

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How to participate in the decade action

We wanted to better understand what to do in concrete to help this transition towards a safer ocean and interviewed on purpose Francesca Santoro, Programme Specialist at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

“Around the world, there are numerous examples of research partnerships that aim to align the strengths of commercial and academic enterprises to promote a sustainable Blue Economy.

One good example is the Seabed 2030 project, an innovative partnerships that generates and applies cutting-edge science to create economies that are more productive, competitive, sustainable and safe.

Seabed2030 is a multi-stakeholder project launched at the 2017 UN Ocean Conference led by The Nippon Foundation and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) and formally supported by more than 100 organizations.

The project aims to map the world’s seafloor by the year 2030 and to compile high- resolution bathymetric data into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map.

With numerous partners, Seabed2030 will cover the unsurveyed 85% of the ocean. The work will contribute to safe navigation, disaster management, weather prediction, biodiversity conservation, and resource development.

For the private sector, participation in Seabed2030 is a corporate investment in both risk mitigation and growth.

For example, Fugro, the world’s leading geo-data specialist, is taking a leadership role in this project, which includes implementing a large-scale crowdsourcing bathymetric data campaign on the unsurveyed portions of the seafloor.

Fugro believes that their leadership role in Seabed2030 provides a myriad of benefits:

  1. Fostering shareholder, client and employee engagement
  2. Strengthening their sectoral and cross-sectoral network of experts;
  3. Establishing leadership recognition and brand promotion on a global scale;
  4. Fostering the geo-data industry/ market from the increased availability of data
  5. Creation of business opportunities.

However, there is an opportunity for the private sector to contribute significantly to reversing the trend by leading and developing a robust and resilient Blue Economy.

This does not represent a new economic trend; it is needed for the prosperity of current and future generations.

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