Royal College of Art announces role as UN Ocean Decade Implementing Partner


Royal College of Art announces role as UN Ocean Decade Implementing Partner

Royal College of Art announces role as UN Ocean Decade Implementing Partner 1280 960 Ocean Decade

The Royal College of Art (RCA), the world’s leading art and design university, has been named a UN Ocean Decade Implementing Partner. Through this partnership, the RCA will focus on tackling three of the Challenges identified by the Ocean Decade, which is led by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC/UNESCO).

Keeping our oceans healthy is integral to stabilising the Earth’s climate and supporting life on Earth and human well-being. The UN’s First World Ocean Assessment, released in 2016, found that much of the ocean is now seriously degraded, with changes and losses in the structure, function and benefits from marine systems. In response to this, the United Nations has proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health. UNESCO’s 10 Ocean Decade Challenges for collective impact articulate the most immediate priorities.

As a Decade Implementing Partner, the RCA will work on three Ocean Decade Challenges:

– Protect and restore ecosystems and biodiversity (Challenge 2)

– Develop a sustainable and equitable ocean economy (Challenge 4)

– Change humanity’s relationship with the ocean (Challenge 10)

Using its strong links to the scientific community and expertise in design, participatory science, and stakeholder engagement, the RCA will generate measurable, sustainable and human-centred impact on the health of the ocean. The RCA is well placed to do this as it champions the value of collaborative and interdisciplinary working as the first art and design university in the world to implement a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art with Design and Maths) vision.

Dr Paul Thompson, Vice-Chancellor of the Royal College of Art, said: “We are honoured to support the UN Ocean Decade as a Decade Implementing Partner. We will be applying the creative thinking and interdisciplinary approach of the RCA to innovate and help build a sustainable, healthy ocean, in close partnership with the Ocean Decade team with IOC/UNESCO.”

Professor Paul Anderson, Dean, School of Design, commented: “Interestingly we know more about the moon than we do about our own ocean. As designers working with the international scientific marine community we wish to develop insightful, relevant and human-centred design thinking. We seek to provide solutions providing balance between protecting our ocean and marine diversity whilst providing safe, sustainable, economic models for human activity in coastal regions around the world”.

Julian Barbière, Head of the Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section at IOC/UNESCO, and Global Coordinator of the Ocean Decade, said: “We are very pleased to be working with the Royal College of Art on bringing design-led thinking and co-designed, innovative solutions to the ocean’s most pressing problems. We thank the RCA for their commitment to this new partnership and look forward to our collaboration over the course of the Ocean Decade.”

The partnership will support connecting scientific data to community actions and build upon current ocean-based research at the RCA including data gathered from a 6,000 nautical mile transatlantic voyage, and designs for New Economic Models for the Oceans (NEMO) in collaboration with coastal communities. Throughout the Ocean Decade, the RCA’s research team will continue to support co-design activities between ocean science and key actors to protect the ocean. This academic research is led by Professor Paul Anderson with Professor Ashley Hall, Dr Bjorn Summer, Dr Carla Amaral, Dr Elise Hodson, and Marine Consultant Chris Ross.


For further information please contact the RCA Press Office at

About the Royal College of Art:
Founded in 1837, the Royal College of Art is the world’s leading university of art and design. Specialising in teaching and research, the RCA offers degrees of MA, MPhil, MRes and PhD across the disciplines of architecture, arts & humanities, design and communications. A small, specialist and research-intensive postgraduate university based in the heart of London, the RCA provides 2500 students with unrivalled opportunities to deliver art and design projects that transform the world. The RCA’s approach is founded on the premise that art, design, creative thinking, science, engineering and technology must all collaborate to solve today’s global challenges. The RCA is home to more than 700 of the world’s leading academic and professional staff who teach and develop students in 30 academic programmes. RCA students are exposed to new knowledge in a way that encourages them to experiment. The RCA runs joint courses with Imperial College London and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

InnovationRCA, the university’s centre for enterprise, entrepreneurship, incubation and business support, has helped over 78 RCA business ideas become a reality that has led to the creation of over 800 UK jobs. Alumni include such major figures as Henry Moore OM, Dame Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, David Hockney OM, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Ridley Scott, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Sir Frank Bowling, Ian Dury, Sir James Dyson OM, Tracey Emin RA CBE, Chris Ofili CBE, Sir Anthony Finkelstein, Sir David Adjaye, Erdem Moralioglu MBE, Philip Treacy OBE, Julian MacDonald OBE, Christopher Bailey CBE, Thomas Heatherwick RDI, CBE, and Sunil Gupta.

The RCA was named the world’s leading university of art and design in the QS World Rankings 2022 for the eighth consecutive year (QS World Subject Rankings 2015-2022).

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.

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/UNESCO) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.


The Science We Need for the Ocean We Want





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