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17-01-2020

South Atlantic Regional Workshop: encouraging new models of cooperation and partnerships for the All-Atlantic Ocean

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO

United Nations / Ocean Science & Technology / Ocean Policy & Sustainable Development / Business & Industry / Donors & Foundations

From 25 to 27 November, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO and the Government of Brazil* co-organized a regional workshop in Rio de Janeiro to consult experts and institutions engaged in ocean action in the South Atlantic region about the needs and priorities they would like to see in the upcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

110 experts from South Atlantic countries** and select guests from other regions were invited to discuss the state of the South Atlantic Ocean, highlighting issues such as sea rise level, regional trends and salinity anomalies. From various fields and backgrounds, the experts identified the regional priorities to co-design mission-oriented research strategies for the Ocean Decade.

While introducing the Decade’s objectives Ariel Troisi, Chair of UNESCO’s IOC, asserted that the Ocean Decade is essential to demonstrate how climate change causes societal impacts: “The way we are acting and living is responsible for several issues we are facing today”.

Thus, multi-stakeholders working groups discussed and prioritized the scientific questions identified at the First Global Planning Meeting (Denmark, May 2019) to implement coercive actions at longer-term scale. Discussions were organized around the six societal outcomes of the Ocean Decade:
-A Clean Ocean
-A Safe Ocean
-A Healthy and Resilient Ocean
-A Predicted Ocean -A Sustainable Productive Ocean
-A Transparent and Accessible Ocean

A seventh working group was organized, focused on Ocean Communication for the Decade, planning the promotion of ocean literacy through various means and to different audiences.

Participants especially stressed the need to include social sciences as well as traditional knowledge in the midst of discussions, to inform policy-makers and develop truly inclusive science-based policies. “Another important achievement of the Decade is to ensure that social, economic and natural sciences are promoted to develop science-based public policies and to protect the environment,” explained Vanessa Hatje, from the Federal University of Bahia.

Building capacities on a national, regional and global scale

The regional workshop stressed the need for enhancing cooperation for marine research to build innovative technologies and focus on capacity-development.

“Today, countries need to foster and strengthen infrastructure at the national level, to share their experiences and to promote the access to scientific data and models to create a global awareness” asserted Ariel Troisi. Building on the experiences of the UNESCO’s IOC, the establishment of international coordination mechanisms must be encouraged.

Head of Marine Resources Unit at the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation, Sigi Gruber presented how the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance could serve as a model to enlarge cooperation in Ocean Research and Innovation. She stressed that “capacity-building will not only be the enabler but also the driver of a new management of the South Atlantic Ocean”.

Empowering and mobilizing youth

Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors who participated in a Summer School in Galway, Ireland in August 2019 were invited to share their expectations towards the Decade. “The ocean makes the Earth habitable; this is why we should promote Ocean Literacy in the school system.

The Generation Ocean will only feel more connected to the ocean if we give them appropriate tools and an innovative approach for doing and communicating ocean sciences.” Youth inclusion in the UN Decade of Ocean Science was unanimously highlighted as a priority all along the regional workshop.

Next steps

All views and works collected during the meeting will be harmonized with the inputs from various other regional workshops, and consolidated into a first draft of Implementation Plan for the Ocean Decade, which will be presented at the Second Global Planning Meeting, in March 2019.

Considering the Atlantic Ocean as a whole, synergies will be developed between this South Atlantic workshop and an upcoming workshop planned for the North Atlantic, to take place in Halifax, Canada, in January 2020. Investigating the existing Atlantic initiatives (All-Atlantic Cooperation for Ocean Research and Innovation, AANChOR), new models of cooperation on a coordinated and partnership-based approach will be encouraged.

The Rio de Janeiro meeting was organized in partnership with the European Commission - and with the support of AANCHoR, AORA, European Commision, The Boticário Foundation, Federal University of São Paulo and the National Council of Marine Pilotage of Brazil (CONAPRA/PRATICAGEM DO BRASIL) – the workshop aimed to develop and prioritize the scientific questions identified at the First Global Planning Meeting.

The Ocean Decade

Proclaimed in December 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will build a common global framework and foster scientific innovation and communication, to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries’ actions to sustainably manage the ocean and achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

*Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication; and the Directorate of Hydrography and Navigation of the Navy, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs **Participating South Atlantic Countries included: South Africa, Angola, Cape Verde, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Mauritania, Namibia, Morocco, Nigeria, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay

***

For additional information, please contact:
Julie Rigaud, Project Coordinator, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission j.rigaud@unesco.org

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