UNESCO-IOC and the Ocean Decade at SIDS4: Capturing the perspectives and strengthening the voices of Small Island Developing States


UNESCO-IOC and the Ocean Decade at SIDS4: Capturing the perspectives and strengthening the voices of Small Island Developing States

UNESCO-IOC and the Ocean Decade at SIDS4: Capturing the perspectives and strengthening the voices of Small Island Developing States 2500 1600 Ocean Decade

From 27 to 30 May, Antigua and Barbuda hosted Heads of State, United Nations entities, international thought leaders, policymakers, scientists, and civil society for the 4th United Nations International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4), which fell just a few weeks after the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference that discussed the need to increase support to SIDS to advance ocean-based solutions for sustainable and equitable economic development. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC), in its role of coordinator of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (‘Ocean Decade’), held a series of side events at SIDS4.

Under the theme “Charting the course toward resilient prosperity,” the SIDS4 Conference covered diverse and urgent issues facing SIDS, including climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean conservation, disaster risk reduction, access to finance, and overall sustainable development.

The key outcome of the Conference, a new 10-year framework for international cooperation and support will be reflected in the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS), a renewed declaration toward SIDS’ resilient prosperity.

The Ocean Decade recognizes the importance of ocean science for the equitable, inclusive, and sustainable development of SIDS. Fifteen percent of Decade Actions are working in SIDS and the Ocean Decade is rolling out diverse initiatives to increase action in these territories, including capacity development, establishment of regional coordination hubs, and the development of regional roadmap for Caribbean SIDS. Through several thematic side events at SIDS4, the Ocean Decade rallied a diverse ocean community to showcase tangible initiatives, including accessible data and digital technologies, integrated ocean management, and solutions for mitigating coastal threats – all aimed at enhancing the coastal resilience of SIDS.

“Last month, at the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference, the ocean community emphasized the critical need for increased investment in ocean science and its associated infrastructure for observations and data, with a particular focus on the needs of SIDS and under-represented groups,” said Vidar Helgesen, Executive Secretary of UNESCO-IOC. “As we look to the implementation of the Ocean Decade towards 2030, these needs will be prioritized through resource mobilization, targeted capacity development and innovative partnerships.”

Generating ocean knowledge for coastal resilience

Island developing nations are particularly dependent on ocean-based industries for income, trade, and employment. What is the best way to strike a balance between realizing the potential of the ocean economy and protecting ocean resources and marine ecosystems?

The side event “Ocean knowledge for resilient prosperity” highlighted the role of the Ocean Decade in underpinning sustainable ocean economies in SIDS. Drawing on the Barcelona Statement that was launched at the recent 2024 Ocean Decade Conference, this event which was attended by the Heads of Government of Aruba and Grenada, explored how the global priorities identified in the Barcelona Statement could be translated to tangible and sustained action for SIDS. The event also saw the launch of a new regional ocean literacy programme for the Caribbean that will be implemented under the leadership of UNESCO-IOC’s regional subsidiary body for the Caribbean (IOCARIBE) as part of the Ocean Decade’s efforts to create an inspiring and engaging ocean for all.

Coastal resilience starts with data

As SIDS are stewards of vast ocean territories, encompassing approximately 30% of the ocean, observations and data are imperative for fostering their resilience and sustainable development.

The Ocean Decade partnered with Fugro to underscore the intricate interconnection between coastal resilience and ocean data. The side event “Nature-based coastal resilience for Caribbean SIDS” introduced inclusive and integrated management frameworks and tools responding to the local need for coastal geo-data in developing nations. Through examples from the Caribbean, experts demonstrated how high-quality, open-access, and accurate baseline data enable vulnerability assessments and inform analyses related to adaptation, infrastructure development, natural resource management, and environmental monitoring.

During the High-Level Interactive Dialogue of the Conference that focused on “Leveraging data and digital technologies and building effective institutions for a resilient future in SIDS,” Vidar Helgesen highlighted the importance of investment and partnerships to support access of SIDS to data and technology. He showcased successful examples of endorsed Decade Actions in SIDS that are led by UNESCO-IOC and which foster open access to and sharing of ocean data and digital technologies. Based on this knowledge, partners are able to develop scientific and technical capacities for early detection of marine invasive species, facilitate ocean data sharing among and between SIDS, and deploy new technologies to collect data on marine biodiversity.

The Ocean Decade recently launched several global initiatives in favor of the sustainable development of SIDS, including a Statement of Collaboration with the SIDS Coalition for Nature, the Ocean Decade Capacity Development Facility which focuses on SIDS, and Call for Decade Actions No. 06/2023, which aims to fill gaps in ocean knowledge and capacity development for Caribbean SIDS.

For more information, please contact:
Ocean Decade Communications Team (oceandecade.comms@unesco.org)


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.

About the UNESCO-IOC:

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC) 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.


The Science We Need for the Ocean We Want





Join #OceanDecade

Privacy Preferences

When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in the form of cookies. Here you can change your Privacy preferences. It is worth noting that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we are able to offer.

For performance and security reasons we use Cloudflare

Enable/disable Google Analytics tracking code in browser

Enable / disable the use of Google fonts in the browser

Enable/disable embed videos in browser

Privacy policy

Our website uses cookies, mainly from 3rd party services. Define your Privacy Preferences and/or agree to our use of cookies.