Global policies and strategies | JPI OCEANS

Global policies and strategies

Research on seas and oceans has a distinct and global dimension. It is therefore not surprising that several initiatives and organisations make the effort to coordinate their marine research programmes at an international level.

UN initiatives

The United Nations (UN) play an important role in this global context, with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) being mandated for the coordination and execution of programmes for research and observation of the oceans, exchange of oceanographic data and information, services and training.

The Ocean Science Section (OSS) of the IOC-UNESCO plays a leading role in creating the conditions for good science and building networks of scientific logistic facilities at global and regional scale. Activities are clustered around climate change, ocean health and coastal research and management. The Ocean Science Section also provides support to the UN Regular Process and Assessment of Assessments.

Programmes and services for operational data and monitoring of oceans include:

Full name




Global Ocean Observing System


Cooperation and generation of products and services

Government agencies, navies and oceanographic research institutions

Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology; in joint cooperation with World Meteorological Organization 


Coordination and development of standards and procedures

Member states

International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange


Exchange of data and information, and generation of products

Designated national agencies, national oceanographic data centres, responsible national oceanographic data centres and world data centres for oceanography

International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project


Technical coordination and communication services, international agreements on standards and methods, support and link global observing systems

Network of scientists

Global Ocean Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Programme


Develop global network of hydrographic sections

Network of scientists

The UN-OCEANS network promotes a higher level of cooperation on ocean and coastal issues at the global level. Included in this network are UN entities that develop ocean-related activities, like IOC-UNESCO, along with many others:

Full name




Convention on Biological Diversity


International legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity

Signatory states

International Maritime Organisation


Ensure implementation of legislation on shipping safety and the marine environment

Member states, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations

UN Environmental Program


Sets the global environmental agenda, promotes implementation of environmental dimensions of sustainable development and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment

Member states

International Hydrographic Organization


Ensure qualitative surveys and development of charts of  the world's seas, oceans and navigable waters

Member states

Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection


Advisory body for the United Nations (UN) on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection. 

Nominated experts

UN Development Programme


Link and coordinate global and national efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals

Member states

Non-UN initiatives

The international research programme DIVERSITAS integrates research on biological diversity at the global level and collaborates with a wide range of partners, including the UN, to address these issues.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) is a cooperation of 19 countries bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas with the aim to exchange scientific information and provide expert advice to governments and commissions of the European Union (EU) and the Regional Sea Conventions.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) works on oceans and seas related topics, e.g. on Marine or Blue Biotechnology (OECD 2013).

Several other international scientific networks and programmes focus on marine research, such as:

Full name




Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans


Implementation of an international and integrated global ocean observing system

Oceanographic institutions

World Association of Marine Stations


Cooperation to develop strategies and policies in marine sciences

Marine research institutes and stations

Census of Marine Life


Repository of known marine life

Programs, organizations, governmental agencies, and foundations

Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research; parallel to the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics programme


Facilitation of research

Network of scientists

Variability and Predictability of the Ocean-Atmosphere System


Collection and analysis of observations and the development and application of models

Network of scientists

International Study of Marine Biogeochemical Cycles of Trace Elements and their Isotopes


Facilitation of research

Network of scientists and data centres

Future Earth Programme from the International Council for Science (ICSU)

Future Earth Programme

Facilitation of research

Academia, funders, governments, international organisations and science assessments, development groups, business and industry, civil society and the media

International Ocean Discovery Program


Facilitation of  research

Network of ministries and funding agencies

Source: Compendium of Coast and Sea



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