UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainability

Getting involved in the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainability

On 5 December 2017, the United Nations proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, to be held from 2021 to 2030. This Decade will provide a common framework to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries’ actions to sustainably manage the Oceans and more particularly to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Decade is embracing a participative and transformative process so that scientists, policy makers, managers, and service users can work together to ensure that ocean science delivers greater benefits for both the ocean ecosystem and for society.

This Decade will be designed to facilitate global communication and mutual learning across research and stakeholder communities. It will work to meet the needs of scientists, policy makers, industry, civil society and the wider public, but it will also support new, collaborative partnerships that can deliver more effective science-based management of our ocean space and resources.

If you would like to read more detail about the Decade, UNESCO produced several documents in preparation.  The following two documents provide overview information:

The Science we need for the ocean we want: The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)


The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021-2030


How can you get involved?

A variety of meetings and events will take place both within the United States and worldwide to support the goals of the Decade. Global events are listed on the UN Decade website here: https://www.oceandecade.org/activities#intro. These events will focus on six (6) key areas:

  • Clean Ocean
  • Safe Ocean
  • Healthy & Resilient Ocean
  • Predicted Ocean
  • Sustainable Productive Ocean
  • Transparent & Accessible Ocean

Global Program

The kick-off event of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will take place in Berlin, Germany, from the 31st of May to the 2nd of June 2021. It will be hosted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany.

United States

In addition to these global areas of focus, the U.S. Committee on the Decade will host its kickoff meeting on 3-4 February 2021. Register for the kickoff meeting here: https://nas-ocean-decade-2021.heysummit.com/

Elizabeth Hillman
National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine (NASEM)
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/us-national-committee-on-ocean-science-for-sustainable-development-2021-2030

Other National Coordination

National Decade Committees (NDC) have been established to facilitate national coordination of Decade activities. These national multi-agency and multi-stakeholder platforms involve the national political and scientific institutions and actors concerned by the ocean and its management. Existing national coordinating mechanisms can provide the basis for performing such functions. The NDC will engage the national ocean community (a wide variety of local and sub-national stakeholders) and facilitate co-design of initiatives (programs, projects, and contributions) across groups of stakeholders that can be endorsed as Decade Actions. They will also facilitate hosting of sub-regional or regional meetings related to the Decade.

The Global Stakeholder Forum will provide a platform to promote exchange and cooperation between National Decade Committees.  

List of National Decade Coordination contact points: 


Karen Silverwood-Cope
Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Website: http://decada.ciencianomar.mctic.gov.br/


Aurélie Chamiot-Prieur
Commission nationale pour la Commission Océanographique Intergouvernementale
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.ecologie.gouv.fr/


Rosalia Santoleri
Italian Oceanographic Commission
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.cnr.it/en

United Kingdom

Lowri Griffiths, National Oceanography Centre
Marine Science Co-ordination Committee (MSCC) 
International Working Group (IWG)
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://projects.noc.ac.uk/iwg/decade-undos

Regional Workgroups

The Western Tropical Atlantic Regional Planning Group

The Western Tropical Atlantic Regional Planning Group (WTA IPG) was established in July 2020 to advance and coordinate strategic partnerships and actions for the Western Tropical Atlantic region, and benefits from the support of IOCARIBE as its official Secretariat. In 2020, WTA IPG developed a framework of major challenges and actions around each Decade outcomes and will organize a series of virtual workshops to support the elaboration of a regional action plan.

Contact point: 
IOC- of UNESCO Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (IOCARIBE) Cesar Toro
[email protected] 
Website: http://iocaribe.ioc-unesco.org/undecadeevents/undecadewtarw

The Arctic Task Force

The Arctic Task Force is presently preparing an Arctic Ocean Action Plan that will offer stakeholders an opportunity to identify actions and priorities for the Arctic Ocean in the Ocean Decade. Lead by the Danish Center for Marine Research, the Task Force has organized a series of virtual working group meetings around the Ocean Decade seven societal outcomes and will hold an online consultation on the first version of the Arctic Ocean Action Plan (March 2021). It will also offer participants of the working groups networking opportunities with other Arctic actors from science, governments, industry and NGOs. 

Contact point: 
Danish Centre for Marine Research
Colin Stedmon and Christian Riisager-Simonsen
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.oceandecade.dk/arctic-workshop

The Pacific Regional Planning Group

The Pacific Regional Planning Group for the Ocean Decade is chaired by the Pacific Community Centre of Ocean Science (PCCOS) at the Pacific Community (SPC).

Contact point : 
Jens Krüger
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.spc.int/

The Regional Planning Group for the Western Pacific. 

Contact point: 
Wenxi Zhu
Email:  [email protected]
Website: https://ioc.unesco.org/

The Regional Planning Group for Africa

Contact point: 
Mika Odido
Email: [email protected]
Website:  https://ioc.unesco.org/

How MTS is participating in the Decade

The Marine Technology Society is committed to active participation in the Decade on behalf of our members and the field of marine technology. MTS has sent representatives to the Global Planning meeting in 2020 and plans to send representatives to the Global kickoff meeting in May; MTS Past President Donna Kocak is our lead for Ocean Decade news and activity. She and our new Vice President of Early Career Ocean Professionals will travel to Berlin in May to participate in the kickoff meeting.

Additionally, MTS has been accepted as a nexus organization for the U.S. National Committee. MTS Past President, Richard Spinrad, serves as the Vice President of the Committee. Representatives of MTS will attend the kickoff meeting in February.

The vision of the Decade is to, “…develop scientific knowledge, build infrastructure, and foster relationships for a sustainable and healthy ocean.” This is the challenge of our generation. Marine Technologists worldwide have the talent and expertise to enhance and support the mission of the Decade, and we hope you will join us in collaborating on this important global effort.

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