The first Global Planning Meeting ended after three days of lively discussions with over 200 participants from science, academia, policy, communication and private sector organisations brainstorming on how to achieve the six key Decade outcomes by 2030: a clean ocean, a healthy and resilient ocean, a safe ocean, a sustainable and productive ocean, a predicted ocean and a transparent and accessible ocean. Present for JPI Oceans were Swedish Management Board member Anna Jöborn, also a member of the Decade’s Executive Planning Group, Executive Director Thorsten Kiefer and Strategic Director Kathrine Angell-Hansen.
Questions of human and societal relevance were at the core of debates: What kind of science and infrastructures are needed to understand and inform decision making for a changing ocean? How can we align on-going research investments in order to produce major breakthroughs such as a global map of the seafloor or a deep-sea observing system? How can science define pathways for ocean sustainability, providing solutions to feed a growing world population without harm to marine biodiversity? How to involve in partnerships globally? How to involve the citizens?
“The Decade takes on a critical role in critical times, as we are facing challenges our species has never faced before. As we know so little, we need this Decade to fill the gaps in scientific knowledge to enhance ocean health. But it must do so within a precautionary approach applied with vigour” said Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, opening the meeting at the Assembly Hall of Denmark’s National Museum.
Peter Haugan, Chair of IOC-UNESCO said the Decade is a once in a lifetime opportunity.It needs to be about the people, leaving no one behind, and enabling individuals to make a difference. He highlighted the need for an ambitious top-down and bottom-up movement to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
For JPI Oceans Thorsten Kiefer concluded: “A unique aspect of the Decade is indeed its decadal outlook. In the light of the anticipated climatic, environmental, economic and societal dynamics, a decadal outlook offers the opportunity to design an agenda for knowledge and capacity that will become increasingly crucial for seas, oceans and people. JPI Oceans, with its pioneering spirit and record of advancing emerging topics will play a strong role in shaping and pursuing the Decade’s ambitions. Accordingly, the decade is very present in our thinking and high on the agendas of our meetings“.
To succeed, participants concluded that the Decade needs to promote ocean literacy across the world to anchor mind-sets around the fundamental relationship humanity has with the ocean. The Decade needs to be inclusive, participative, and interdisciplinary. The importance of inclusiveness also to less developed countries was also repeatedly highlighted by Anna Jöborn during discussion panel interventions.
Capacity development and technology transfer are required to smaller economies who are in need of ocean science, such as the Small Island Developing States. The importance of traditional knowledge should be emphasized as our way of life is destructive. Ultimately, the Decade needs to start a global movement and should change the current ‘domination’ narrative over the ocean and turn it into something positive.
The Decade Meeting echoed the G7 Environment Ministers communiqué (Metz, France, 5-6 May 2019) that called for “improving and sharing the latest state-of-the-art knowledge of the ecological state of the oceans, to boosting ocean awareness and literacy, and to ensure that existing and any new human-induced pressures are reduced and do not threaten the health of the oceans”.
The next months of planning will include regional workshops to identify further priorities and identify existing initiatives, experts and potential partnerships. The first regional workshops will cover the Pacific community (Nouméa, New Caledonia, 23-25 July 2019) and the North pacific region (Tokyo, Japan, 31 July – 2 August 2019). Other workshops are planned between August 2019 and the first quarter of 2020. These are foreseen to include pan-European seas and oceans highly relevant to JPI Oceans like the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic.
A Second Global Planning Meeting scheduled for May 2020 will then integrate knowledge and regional priorities into a global implementation plan that will include a science plan, a communication strategy as well as a resources mobilisation plan to be presented to the various Decade partners at a kick-off meeting in Germany during the first quarter of 2021.