Home » World Ocean Day » Ocean Decade: building knowledge to create the ocean we want
World Ocean Day Q2 2023

Ocean Decade: building knowledge to create the ocean we want

Loggerhead Sea Turtles swimming in Shark Bay, Western Australia
Loggerhead Sea Turtles swimming in Shark Bay, Western Australia
Lewis Burnett / Ocean Image Bank

Vladimir Ryabinin

Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO

The ocean is a vital resource that sustains life on our planet, but it is facing multiple threats, including climate, pollution and overfishing. World Oceans Day on the 8th of June is when the international community comes together to recognise the vital role the ocean plays for life on Earth.

This year, the message is simple: we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to act. This opportunity is called the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021–2030, the ‘Ocean Decade.’ 

Why is the Ocean Decade 2021–2030 important? 

Led by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the Ocean Decade is a global initiative aimed at unlocking knowledge to restore marine health and promote a sustainable ocean economy. The initiative brings together scientists, policymakers and stakeholders from around the world to advance ocean science and technology; improve ocean governance; and foster partnerships that lead to sustainable and equitable use of the ocean’s resources. 

It has set off to unlock knowledge-based innovative actions to address 10 major challenges, from beating marine pollution to reconnecting humanity with the ocean and ensuring the sustainable use of ocean resources. 

Around 25% of the ocean has been mapped.

Know how to build a sustainable ocean economy 

Building a sustainable ocean economy is key for the Ocean Decade. It combines the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth and the potential to create millions of jobs in activities such as fisheries and aquaculture, while preserving marine health. 

The initiative will provide the knowledge and tools necessary to achieve this balance, with a big priority on mapping the entire ocean floor by 2030. This is essential for understanding the ocean’s complex ecosystem, identifying areas that need protection and providing valuable biodiversity data — critical for ocean management and conservation.  

Around 25% of the ocean has been mapped — the fruit of efforts by the General Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean (GEBCO) and the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 initiative. But to meet the challenge, governments, industry and scientists must work even closer together. Through the Ocean Decade Corporate Data Group, private sector leaders aim to unlock privately-owned data sources for ocean mapping and other key ocean management areas. 

A sustainable future for society and the ocean 

The Ocean Decade is a unique opportunity to transform the way we interact with the ocean, articulated by scientific expertise. Codesigning knowledge to meet societal needs, we can develop solutions to revitalise the ocean and ensure that it remains a vital resource for generations to come. 

Next article