The ocean, despite being the largest ecosystem on the planet, remains unexplored and unknown on many levels. Developing and disseminating a better comprehension of the ocean, and its specific ecosystems, is vital to preserve the functions and benefits it provides to humans. OCIA aims at using existing interfaces and tailoring new bridges to link researchers, civil society and policy-makers. For action to be based on the best available science, it is fundamental for a global political strategy to be designed targeting ocean science in the first place.
The ocean provides 99% of habitat space by volume. Ocean science accounts for <0.04 to 4% of total research and development expenditures (Figure 11).
IOC-UNESCO initiated an International Decade of Ocean Science to be held between 2021 and 2030. This decade must be regarded in the international framework of the SDG14, especially target 14.3 – to minimise and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels – and target 14.A – to increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular SIDS and LDCs.
The Global Ocean Science Report (GOSR) made a first assessment of “where and how existing ocean science capacities are empowering society, sustaining the environment and generating knowledge to conserve our ocean”. It stresses the need to, first, understand and map research capacities, themes and findings. Once the knowledge gaps are identified, relevant research capacities must be deployed and managed accordingly. This dynamic scheme of information and action requires continuous exchanges between science and policy, and must include society as a whole.
Fig.11 – National expenditure in ocean science as a percentage of national research and development (R&D) expenditure for 20 countries which answered the GOSR questionnaire and provided information regarding national governmental funding for ocean science.
Additionally, in June 2017, UNESCO launched an initiative on “Ocean Literacy for All” to promote the understanding of ocean functions and inter-linkages with human societies. The aim is to ensure citizens make “systematically informed and responsible decisions related to ocean stewardship and the use of ocean resources”. Ocean science must be understood in a holistic and integrated way: acting for ocean science, requires a global coordination of all matters at stake, including research budgets, infrastructures, means of disseminating science in schools and universities and policy-making.
All OCIA initiatives either create, disseminate or depend on ocean science for their action and advocacy. Dedicating a specific space to an end-to-end coverage of science, in the OCIA framework, aims at promoting more efficient action. OCIA is working closely with scientific actors and in the framework of the International Decade of Ocean Science.