Sign up

New agreement mobilizes global science for the Ocean Decade

12 February 2020, Paris – Engaged in joint worldwide cooperative projects since the 1990s, the world’s two leading scientific cooperation organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in light of their common determination to work together on the development and implementation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (the Ocean Decade).

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the International Science Council (ISC) signed their new MoU yesterday, at UNESCO Headquarters, setting in motion a far-reaching framework of cooperation in support of the UN Ocean Decade, due to start officially in January 2021.

Key planned actions include promoting the Ocean Decade among the scientific community, contributing to Decade preparations, accelerating scientific initiatives, and exploring opportunities for joint fundraising for scientific research.

“The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is a unique opportunity to engage the ocean science community in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – globally, regionally and locally. Representing scientists from all fields of knowledge, the International Science Council is particularly well-placed to help us mobilize and realize the full potential of the global scientific community in unlocking solutions for the ocean we want,” emphasized IOC Executive Secretary Vladimir Ryabinin during the signing ceremony.

ISC CEO Heide Hackmann reiterated the importance of the new framework for cooperation: “By signing the Memorandum of Understanding we reaffirm our commitment and determination to jointly deliver on the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The world is looking to the scientific community for leadership that bolsters actionable research to provide much-needed solutions for a healthy and sustainable ocean.”

The renewed partnership stands to give the Ocean Decade important leverage and visibility within the scientific and technological community, its core constituency when it comes to organizing and delivering multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge. Combining the various scientific and policy networks of both organizations will be crucial to ensuring that the Decade can effectively harness the energy and represent the priorities of key ocean stakeholder groups at the global and regional level.

Beyond the substantive development of the Decade and its research portfolio, the MoU identified communication and outreach as one of the main axis for joint action. ISC is committed to promoting the Ocean Decade and its activities among its membership and wider community, which includes international scientific unions and associations, national and regional academies of science and research councils, international initiatives (e.g., on data, Antarctic research, space, oceanic research, and government science advice), as well as its key partners (e.g., Belmont Forum and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations).

Since November 2019, the ISC and IOC have been co-producing a series of blogs featuring new voices we need to hear from across human, natural, social and traditional sciences, if the Ocean Decade is to be truly inclusive and multidisciplinary. The series can be followed via this link.

Bringing together 40 international scientific Unions and Associations, over 140 national and regional scientific organizations, and numerous scientific working groups, the International Science Council has traditionally cooperated with UNESCO’s IOC, which has a global membership of 150 countries, in the fields of ocean sciences, climate sciences and related observations, and capacity development.

In particular, the two Paris-based organizations helped found and remain at the helm of two key international ocean science initiatives: the the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), a worldwide collaborative network of in situ and satellite observing systems, governments, UN agencies and individual scientists; and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), an international body anchored within the ISC whose mandate is to address interdisciplinary science questions related to the ocean.

The IOC-ISC partnership illustrates well the importance of collaboration between international scientific organizations, who together can mobilize key national, regional and global actors across the science-policy-society nexus to generate knowledge for the benefit of humankind.


For more information, please contact:

Mr. Vinicius Lindoso, Communications Officer, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC): [email protected]

Ms. Lizzie Sayer, Communications Officer, International Science Council (ISC):[email protected]

Skip to content