OceanObs’19 Conference Raises Awareness on Need, Role of Ocean Observation
Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis
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In advance of the conference, authors from around the world published 140 papers in the open-access journal Frontiers in Marine Science, which formed the basis for the conference’s breakout sessions.

Participants agreed on a consensus declaration that encourages a “collective effort to evolve ocean observing to generate the data and information we need for the ocean we want”.

The Global Ocean Observing System launched its 2030 Strategy for discussion at the Conference.

27 September 2019: The OceanObs’19 Conference agreed on a consensus declaration with actions to guide the field of ocean observation and complement the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). It highlighted the need for “more complete and sustained observations in the ocean globally” to ensure an integrated ocean observing system that contributes to better understanding the environment and the climate, informing adaptation strategies and promoting the sustainable use of ocean resources.

Over 1,200 experts from 60 countries participated in OceanObs’19, which convened from 16-20 September in Honolulu, Hawaii. The event focused on the theme, ‘An Ocean of Opportunity’ and aimed to facilitate discussion on progress in ocean observing networks and innovative solutions to society’s increasing needs for ocean information. In advance of the conference, authors from around the world wrote and published 140 community white papers in the open-access journal Frontiers in Marine Science. These papers formed the basis for the conference’s 24 breakout sessions.

In an outcome statement, participants acknowledge that information about the ocean is necessary to advance understanding of the ocean system; inform efforts to conserve life in the sea for the benefits of future generations; mitigate the risk of disasters, including those related to a changing climate; reduce pollution and harmful debris; and strengthen security and safety at sea. Participants encourage a “collective effort to evolve ocean observing to generate the data and information we need for the ocean we want.” In particular, participants call for, inter alia:

  • engaging a wide range of stakeholders in the planning, implementation and review of an integrated and effective ocean observing systems;
  • focusing the ocean observing system on addressing critical human needs, scientific understanding of the ocean and linkages to the climate system, real time ocean observation services and promotion of policies that sustain a healthy, biologically diverse and resilient ocean ecosystem;
  • advancing the frontiers of ocean observing capabilities from the coast to the deep ocean, including all aspects of the marine biome, disease vectors, and pollutants;
  • ensuring that data are managed wisely, guided by open data policies and shared in a timely manner;
  • involving the public through citizen-engaged observations, information products, formal education programs and outreach; and
  • evolving ocean governance to learn and share, identify priorities, increase diversity, promote partnerships and resolve conflicts.

The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), a joint programme of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) and the International Science Council, launched its 2030 Strategy for discussion at the Conference. The Strategy focuses on delivering ocean information across operational services and on climate and ocean health. Following the conference discussions, GOOS plans to add priority actions and new ideas to support the 2030 Strategy. [Conference Webpage] [Conference Statement] [Ocean Decade Conference Webpage] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on GOOS Strategy]


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