The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030: North Atlantic Workshop

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More specific regional North Atlantic priorities will be defined for each of the Societal Outcomes. More information coming soon.

Working Group I: A clean ocean

A clean ocean whereby sources of pollution are identified, quantified and reduced and pollutants removed from the ocean.

“Human activities are increasingly impacting its local and, subsequently, the global environment, leading to pollution by both chemical and physical wastes. Through the Decade, integrated research will be fostered to assess the human and environmental risks of ongoing and future types of ocean pollution, to generate new ideas to reduce the ocean pressures by promoting recycling, improved waste management and related incentives, and by strengthening the governance regimes to encourage more sustainable production and consumption. The most challenging ocean pollutants include: atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is the main cause of the climate change with ocean warming, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise; agricultural fertilizers, which lead to increased primary production but result in ocean deoxygenation; untreated waste water; invasive species; and micro- and macro-plastics.”

Working Group II: A healthy and resilient ocean

A healthy and resilient ocean whereby marine ecosystems are mapped and protected, multiple impacts, including climate change, are measured and reduced, and provision of ocean ecosystem services is maintained.

“Marine ecosystem degradation has greatly accelerated during the last five decades due to the multitude of stressors affecting the ocean. To support the conservation and protection of ocean ecosystems, the Decade will promote inter-disciplinary research aimed at elucidating impacts of cumulative stressors on the ocean, its seas, ecosystems and resources, hence providing more complete information to fill gaps, and specify actions, which can improve the situation and reverse the degradation. Improved appreciation of the economic and societal value of ocean ecosystems will also be key to stimulate the development of marine spatial planning, marine protected areas, and other ecosystem-based management approaches. Supplementing and completing the science base with holistic mapping of the ocean, in all its dimensions, will also be needed for adaptive management approach towards good ocean stewardship. All nations will benefit in a healthy and resilient ocean and by preserving its capacity to deliver food, income, support transportation and many other elements of sustainable development.”

Working Group III: A predicted ocean

A predicted ocean whereby society has the capacity to understand current and future ocean conditions, forecast their change and impact on human well-being and livelihoods.

“The vast volume of the ocean and its complex coastlines are neither adequately observed nor fully understood. In particular, the deep sea is a frontier of ocean sciences. Under the Decade, sustained and systematic ocean observations can be expanded to all ocean basins and depths to document ocean change, initialize ocean system models and provide critical information for improved ocean understanding. Such information is increasingly needed by nations and the ocean business community operating within or beyond national jurisdictions. Improved access to understanding ocean present and future conditions will be a pre-requisite to the development of sustainable ocean economic policies and ecosystem-based management and will lead to more efficient shipping, mitigate storm damage and flooding of coastal cities, sustain healthy fisheries, protect coral reefs and other key marine ecosystems from degradation, and improve climate forecasting, amongst a few. The Decade will also build on advances in ocean robotics and the combination of remote and in-situ ocean observations which offer new opportunities and will reduce operational costs; it will also promote free and open data sharing and multi-stakeholder contributions by governments (rich and poor), the private sector and citizens.”

Working Group IV: A safe ocean

A safe ocean whereby human communities are protected from ocean hazards and where the safety of operations at sea and on the coast is ensured.

“Ocean hazards such as storm surges, tsunamis, harmful algal blooms, or coastline erosion can be devastating for coastal communities. The rush for coastal recreation and economic expansion in the maritime domain has increased access to the sea to a multitude of users, producing newly built infrastructures that are increasingly vulnerable to ocean extreme events. Climate change impacts on the ocean will have profound implications for all human societies and most of our activities. The Decade will promote research aimed at reducing and minimizing impacts of various changes (risk reduction) through adaptation and mitigation, at assessing social and physical vulnerability and help clarify interactions between natural and man-induced changes. It will also support the development of integrated multi-hazard warning systems in all basins hence contributing to enhanced preparedness and awareness of society with regards to ocean risks. This could trigger the introduction and use of new technologies through private-public partnerships. Community resilience and adaptive capacity, with elevated education and awareness as regards the use of observations and data, will also contribute to reduced impacts and improved efficiency of early warning systems for natural and man-made hazards.”

Working Group V: A sustainably harvested and productive ocean

A sustainably harvested and productive ocean ensuring the provision of food supply and alternative livelihoods.

“Society now depends on the ocean more than at any time before. It is a vital source of nourishment, supporting directly the livelihood of about 500 million people, especially in the poorest nations, and, indirectly, the global population. Ocean economies are among the most rapidly growing and promising in the world, providing benefits to many sectors of great economic value, such as fisheries, biotechnologies, energy production, tourism and transport, and many others. The Decade should create a better understanding of the interactions and interdependencies of the environmental conditions and processes, the use of resources and the economy. A major task in context of the development of the ocean economy will be in documenting the potential impacts from environmental changes on the established and emerging maritime industries and their ability to generate growth, especially for LDCs (Least Developed Countries) and SIDS (Small Island Development States). Defining safe and sustainable thresholds for economic operations in the ocean will help policy-makers and stakeholders in implementing a truly sustainable blue economy. New research should develop and flesh out sustainable blue-green growth agendas and link it to efforts in ecosystem protection.”

Working Group VI: A transparent and accessible ocean

A transparent and accessible ocean whereby all nations, stakeholders and citizens have access to ocean data and information, technologies and have the capacities to inform their decisions.

“The achievement of the above outcomes very much depends on global capacity building and resource-sharing between countries at different levels of wealth and development. The enormous need for more ocean information at the scientific, governmental, private sector, and public levels demands a step-change in ocean education at all levels. New technology, and the digital revolution are transforming the ocean sciences; these will be harnessed to deliver data and information to all stakeholders. Science-policy interface for oceans should be enhanced as well. Open access to ocean information, increased interactions between the academic and societal actor communities, and ocean literacy for all should capacitate all citizens and stakeholders to have a more responsible and informed behaviour towards the ocean and its resources. Innovative capacity development schemes between south–south and north–south ocean actors as well as courses for ocean professionals will be key in raising ocean awareness and promote better solutions.”