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About The Ocean Decade


The science we need for the ocean we want

In December 2017, the 72nd Session of UN General Assembly proclaimed the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (Ocean Decade).


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 Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and 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 vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’.


The mission of the Ocean Decade is to ‘catalyse transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and our ocean’.

Transformative Ocean Science

The notion of transformation is central to the Decade. The Decade, both in terms of action and outcomes, needs to move beyond business as usual to a true revolution in ocean science. In the context of the Decade, we need transformative ocean science that:

uses the 2030 Agenda as a central framework to identify and address the questions that are most important to society;

is co-designed and co-delivered in a multi-stakeholder environment and that involves the generators of knowledge and the users of knowledge;

is solutions-focused;

where needed, is big, audacious, forward-looking, and spans geographies;

reaches across disciplines and actively integrates natural and social science disciplines as well as the arts and humanities;

embraces local and indigenous knowledge holders;

is transformative because of who is doing it or where it is being done, including in both less developed and developed countries;

strives for generational, gender and geographic diversity in all its manifestations;

is communicated in forms that are widely understood across society and that trigger behavior change; and

is shared openly and available for re-use

explore DECADE ACtions

Find out more about the Decade Actions in the region

IOC/WESTPAC and Partners conceptualize and implement multi-stakeholder and collaborative ocean science research to help address the challenges facing the Western Pacific.

Ocean Decade Outcomes

Seven outcomes describe the ‘ocean we want’ at the end of the Ocean Decade.

A Clean Ocean

where sources of pollution are identified and reduced or removed.

A healthy and resilient ocean

where marine ecosystems are understood, protected, restored and managed.

A productive ocean

supporting sustainable food supply and a sustainable ocean economy.

A predicted ocean

where society understands and can respond to changing ocean conditions.

A safe ocean

where life and livelihoods are protected from ocean-related hazards.

An accessible ocean

with open and equitable access to data, information and technology and innovation.

An inspiring and engaging ocean

where society understands and values the ocean in relation to human wellbeing and sustainable development.

Ocean Decade Challenges

The Ocean Decade Challenges represent the most immediate and pressing priorities for the Ocean Decade.

Challenge 1

Understand and beat marine pollution

Challenge 2

Protect and restore ecosystems and biodiversity

Challenge 3

Sustainably feed the global population

Challenge 4

Develop a sustainable and equitable ocean economy

Challenge 5

Unlock ocean-based solutions to climate change

Challenge 6

Increase community resilience to ocean hazards

Challenge 7

Expand the Global Ocean Observing System

Challenge 8

Create a digital representation of the ocean

Challenge 9

Deliver data, knowledge and technology to all

Challenge 10

Change humanity’s relationship with the ocean

A Decade programme is typically global or regional in scale and will contribute to the achievement of one or more of the Ocean Decade Challenges. It is long-term, multi-year, interdisciplinary and multi-national. A programme will consist of component projects, and potentially enabling activities.

A Decade project is a discrete and focused undertaking. It may be regional, national or sub-national and it will typically contribute to an identified Decade programme.

A Decade activity is a one-off standalone initiative (such as an awareness-raising event, a scientific workshop, or a thematic training opportunity). It enables a programme or project or directly contributes to an Ocean Decade Challenge.

A Decade contribution supports the Decade through provision of a necessary resource (e.g. funding or an in-kind contribution). A contribution can support either the implementation of a Decade Action or the coordination functions of the Decade.

Decade Actions

Decade Actions are the tangible initiatives and endeavors implemented by a wide range of stakeholders to fulfill the Decade vision, and may include programmes, projects, activities, and/or contributions:

Ocean Decade CoordinAtion

The Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has been mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to coordinate the overall work of the Ocean Decade.


Coordination and management at the global, regional, and local levels involve several structures, including the Decade Coordination Unit (DCU), Decade Advisory Board, Decade Coordination Offices (DCO) and Decade Collaborative Centres (DCC), Decade Implementing Partners, Ocean Decade Alliance, and others.


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