Why is focusing on the ocean important?
The Royal Society has had a long-standing interest in the ocean and a number of Fellows of the Royal Society working on ocean and marine science, from marine sediments to physical and chemical oceanography. As we continue to develop our understanding of the ocean, its role has become crucial notably as a resource for livelihoods and in providing new forms of energy. Yet, the ocean is currently facing unprecedented human and environmental stressors, with impacts such as biodiversity loss and potentially catastrophic slowdowns of ocean circulation patterns.
Understanding the ocean’s complexity is key to its care, sustainable management and science-informed policy. Policy responses will be at the forefront of creating an ocean which is both healthy and meets the needs of humanity sustainably. Building on this need for science informed policy and business decisions, the Royal Society has launched a new Ocean Science Policy Programme to support the science and policy needed to meet the goals of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The programme brings together ECRs, ECOPs, industry professionals and policymakers to identify the critical knowledge to help create a sustainably managed and healthy ocean. The programme will pursue a long-standing interest from the Royal Society providing policy advice on ocean-related topics, from ocean acidification to the impacts of climate change on oceans.
The programme as an endorsed contribution of the UN Ocean Decade
The Ocean Science Policy Programme is an endorsed contribution to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development which convenes global efforts and research to care for our oceans. The UN Ocean Decade (2021–2030) is working towards these seven outcomes:
- a clean ocean where sources of pollution are identified and reduced or removed
- a healthy and resilient ocean where marine ecosystems are understood, protected, restored and managed
- a productive ocean supporting sustainable food supply and a sustainable ocean economy
- a predicted ocean where society understands and can respond to changing ocean conditions
- a safe ocean where life and livelihoods are protected from ocean-related hazards
- an accessible ocean with open and equitable access to data, information and technology and innovation
- an inspiring and engaging ocean where society understands and values the ocean in relation to human wellbeing and sustainable development
There are ten challenges identified by the UN Decade to reach this set of outcomes, and The Royal Society Ocean Science Policy Programme will focus on the following three:
- Sustainable Ocean Economy (Challenge 4)
- Ocean-Climate Nexus (Challenge 5)
- Capacity Development (Challenge 9)