Ocean enthusiasts from over 140 countries take part in the First International Ocean Decade Conference

BMBF, 06.07.2022

The High-Level Launch and seven Ocean Decade Laboratories in 2021 and 2022 brought together thousands of people to discuss the future of the ocean. They involved participants from over 140 countries and subjects such as deep-sea-research, weather satellites and everything else that supports the Decade’s overall goal of achieving “The science we need for the ocean we want”.

Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, the “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development” will span from 2021 to 2030. The First International Ocean Decade Conference, organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in partnership with the IOC-UNESCO, was the first international effort of the Ocean Decade to bring people with an interest in the ocean together. The globally recognised High-Level Launch in June 2021 marked the beginning of the conference and the active phase of the Ocean Decade with a show of high-ranking support.

The conference reached its second stage with the Ocean Decade Laboratories. Over the course of one year, seven digital Ocean Decade Laboratories kept up the momentum of the High-Level Launch and provided a unique opportunity for ocean stakeholders to share ideas for the future of the ocean.

Multidisciplinary, international and collaborative networking – thanks to a video-conference platform, this exactly described the event series. 173 speakers – leading ocean experts on topics such as climate change, ocean litter, deep sea ecosystems, disaster management, fishing, tourism, indigenous knowledge and even sustainable fashion and surfing – shared their expertise and findings with a community of up to 1.000 participants per Laboratory. Generally around half of the participants were scientists, but many were also from government institutions, non-government organisations or from the private business sector.

Christa von Hillebrandt-Andrade, Deputy Director of the International Tsunami Information Center, Caribbean Office in Puerto Rico, who co-hosted the Laboratory “A Safe Ocean” at the beginning of April 2022 summed up her feelings after the three-day laboratory with participants from 116 countries:

“My mind is in overdrive and my body is exhausted. I have spent almost 48 hours travelling across the world and I was enriched, inspired and challenged by the discussions of so many different aspects of a safe ocean.”

The seven Ocean Decade Laboratories were:

  • An Inspiring and Engaging Ocean (7 – 8 July 2021)
  • A Predicted Ocean (15 – 17 September 2021)
  • A Clean Ocean (17 – 19 November 2021)
  • A Healthy and Resilient Ocean (9 – 11 March 2022)
  • A Safe Ocean (5 – 7 April 2022)
  • An Accessible Ocean (10 – 12 May 2022)
  • A Productive Ocean (31 May – 2 June 2022)

All Laboratories were similarly structured: a Core Event including one or two panel discussions with leading experts, followed by two days of Satellite Activities with workshops, discussions, lectures or any other networking format suggested by the participants. They were typically held by universities or other academic institutions around the world, while some were even conducted from research ships in the Arctic or Antarctic regions. A Wrap-up summed up the findings at the end of the Laboratory. All Core Events and Wrap-ups are available in their entirety and as short summaries here.

With the activities for the UN Ocean Decade, the BMBF and IOC-UNESCO have laid an important foundation for a wide range of international activities in marine and climate research – and future research. Thus the UN Ocean Decade is a decade of innovation. It provides new knowledge to shape the necessary transformation into a sustainable world.

The Ocean Decade now continues for another eight years, aiming to increase the visibility of ocean research activities around the world.


About the Ocean Decade:

Proclaimed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (‘the Ocean Decade’) seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyse new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.