The Prime Minister of Norway and the President of the Republic of Seychelles have accepted UNESCO’s invitation to become Patrons of the Ocean Decade Alliance to generate worldwide support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (‘Ocean Decade’).
The announcements made during the One Ocean Summit (9-11 February 2022, Brest, France) add weight to the group of eminent individuals already engaged in the Ocean Decade Alliance. Through its members, the Alliance’s mandate is to catalyse support for the Ocean Decade through targeted resource mobilization, networking and influence, leveraging and multiplying financial and in-kind resource commitments.
Focusing on action and jointly developed solutions, the Ocean Decade Alliance will support all forms of ocean science to successfully deliver the Decade’s vision and thus contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Science for a sustainable ocean economy
The Kingdom of Norway, a member of the Alliance since 2021, has been a strong supporter of the Ocean Decade since its planning phase, contributing financially to assist UNESCO’s global coordination efforts via its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO).
“Ocean-based industries play a crucial role in the Norwegian economy, and Norway attaches great importance to ensuring the sustainable management and use of marine resources,” said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. “As co-chair of the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, l am pleased to see the close alignment between the implementation of the UN Decade and the action agenda of the Ocean Panel. l therefore welcome and support the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. I will do my best to help realise [its] ambitions.”
Prime Minister Støre met with the UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay during the High Level Segment of the One Ocean Summit on 11 February, an opportunity the UNESCO Director-General seized to thank the Prime Minister for his renewed leadership in the Ocean Decade as a Patron of the Alliance. The two dignitaries also highlighted the need to strengthen collaboration between the Ocean Decade and the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy under the Prime Minister’s co-chairing.
The High Level Panel’s flagship report Ocean Solutions That Benefit People, Nature and the Economy called on governments and stakeholder to “capitalise on the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to create a global data network that provides broad and automated access to ocean data.” The Panel has likewise promoted the Ocean Decade as an opportunity to strengthen the science-policy interface, ensuring public policy and management are informed by solid science.
Innovative financing to support an ocean knowledge revolution
In 2018, the Republic of Seychelles became the first country to successfully undertake a debt-for-nature swap for ocean conservation: a portion of its foreign debt forgiven in exchange for investment in science-based environmental conservation and sustainability projects.
The country has now taken another step to reaffirming and renew its contribution to ocean science and leadership in this domain among Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Both the Republic of Seychelles and its Head of State, President Wavel Ramkalawan, have joined the Decade Alliance, as institutional member and Patron, respectively.
Ocean sustainability is at the core of the Seychelles’ development agenda, and features prominently in the country’s diplomatic outreach, making them a key actor to mobilize Indian Ocean countries and SIDS more generally into supporting and contributing to the Ocean Decade.
“We believe that ocean science diplomacy has a crucial role in facilitating the science needed to support ocean governance and management at all levels,” stated President Ramkalawan in his acceptance letter as Alliance Member and Patron. “UNESCO, especially through the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, has provided capable and sustained leadership in this and other related areas. Seychelles will continue to provide [the IOC] with the support that is required in the pursuit of our common endeavour and in the implementation of the objectives of the Ocean Decade.”
The Ocean Decade Alliance, whose members will have the opportunity to shape the strategic implementation of the Decade, will feature prominently at several upcoming global events, including the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in June 2022.
About the Ocean Decade:
The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (Ocean Decade) provides a convening framework for scientists, governments, academia, businesses, industry and civil society to develop the transformative solutions and partnerships needed to achieve a better understanding and protection of the ocean. These science-based advances will contribute to achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.
About the IOC of UNESCO:
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) promotes international cooperation in marine sciences to improve management of the ocean, coasts and marine resources. The IOC enables its 150 Member States to work together by coordinating programmes in capacity development, ocean observations and services, ocean science and tsunami warning. The work of the IOC contributes to the mission of UNESCO to promote the advancement of science and its applications to develop knowledge and capacity, key to economic and social progress, the basis of peace and sustainable development.