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Getting ready for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

A high-level scientific conference held this week in Paris provided an overview of recent scientific progress and the latest trends on ocean and climate interplays. Looking towards the launch of the UN Decade of Ocean Science in 2021, the conference asked how to move ‘from science to action’.

The Conference, titled “From COP21 towards the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)”, took place from 10-11 September 2018 at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris. Gathering around 500 participants, the meeting was an early opportunity to discuss preparation of the forthcoming UN Decade, which was approved by the 72nd UN General Assembly in September 2017. The Decade is intended to consolidate work by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) to boost international cooperation in ocean sciences, aiming to mobilize the scientific community, policy-makers, business and civil society around a programme of joint research and technological innovation.

Participants included Frédérique Vidal, French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation; Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of IOC-UNESCO; Marie-Alexandrine Sicre, President of SCOR, and Martin Visbeck, who is a member of the International Science Council’s Governing Board.

Panel sessions highlighted new developments in ocean science, such as findings on ocean deoxygenation; capacity-building activities such as the Ocean MOOC starting on 24 September; and issues around inter- and trans-disciplinary scientific cooperation, policy interfaces, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A special session devoted to gender equality focused on opportunities to advance women in ocean science in the context of the Ocean Decade. Many sessions called for further work to engage and recognize the contributions of the social sciences, as well as to support transdisciplinary research. The Future Earth Ocean Knowledge Action Network, represented by its co-Chair Anna Zivian, was praised as a great example of a collaborative network.

The Conference was organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO and the Ocean and Climate Platform, together with the following partners: Agence française pour la biodiversité, AllEnvi, the Government of Canada, CNRS – Le centre national de la recherche scientifique, FFEM – Le fonds français pour l’environnement mondial, IFREMER, Institut Paul Ricard Océanographique, IRD – Institut de Recherche pour le Développment, and UBO – Université de Bretagne Occidentale.

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