Implementing the UN 2030 Agenda: What role for marine science?

Seas and Ocean1 are fundamental to life on Earth. Human impacts on our seas and Ocean are increasing and yet they remain the most poorly studied environments on Earth that continue to yield discoveries new to science and society. Our seas and Ocean are largely governed through a fragmented patchwork of voluntary international agreements. Globalisation and increasing demand is driving exploitation of marine resources on an unprecedented scale. In response, there is an overriding need for science to inform the economic, environmental and societal context of related policy development and implementation. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development2, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), provides a globally signifi cant opportunity to focus scientific effort on delivering the knowledge and expertise required to underpin sustainable development in our seas and Ocean. SDG 14 refers specifically to the need to conserve and sustainably use the Ocean, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, but it is understood that the marine environment underpins about 60% of all SDGs. Co-ordinated scientific effort is fundamentally important to understanding and tackling these multiple and complex challenges.


During the Forum it was announced by the Executive Director of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO that the General Assembly of the United Nations has formally supported an International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030, and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO received the mandate to work together with all ocean stakeholders to develop a common Implementation Plan for the UN Decade of Ocean Science. This decade represents both a huge opportunity and a challenge to the marine science community. The preparations during the coming three years must be used to develop initiatives designed to ensure that marine science is aligned with and actively contributes to the achievement of the SDGs during the Decade of Ocean Science.

To this end, as Forum Member, Marine Training e-Platform highlighted the need to support:

  • Science integration through multi-disciplinary, collaborative and holistic approaches to marine science, taking in account ecosystem-based and precautionary approaches.
  • Scientific capacity building through more effective training, knowledge exchange and technology transfer both locally and globally.
  • Science engagement with society to promote better understanding of the marine environment, the role marine science can play in in helping to inform decision makers and the need to engage relevant stakeholders in defi ning scientific priorities.
  • Science-based societal debate on how best to develop governance of our seas and Ocean using science to inform the development of policy, law and sustainable economic development.