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2019-10-09

Informing society for a sustainable ocean: the Global Ocean Observing System launches 2030 Strategy

The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) has launched its 2030 Strategy aimed at building a global ocean observing system that can respond to our society’s growing needs of ocean data and knowledge for sustainable development.

In Greek mythology, Jason sailed in a ship called Argo to capture the Golden Fleece. Today, for many scientists around the world, Argo is a global network of over 4,000 floats that drift through the ocean measuring its temperature and salinity, while Jason is a satellite that provides global measurements of sea surface height. When assimilated into computer models, satellite and ocean data allow scientists to forecast ocean and climate variability, including the occurrence of extreme weather events.

The value of ocean observations is constantly increasing. In a rapidly changing environment, ocean observations are needed to improve early warnings of floods, droughts and severe storms. A growing global population will require more and more information about the state of the marine ecosystems that provide them with food, energy and jobs. Understanding the real value of marine ecosystem services, estimated at US$3-6 trillion/year, will be essential to inform policies on the sustainable development of an ocean economy, a future source of economic growth.  

Ocean observations that were once used almost exclusively by scientists are now needed by a wider array of users, including policy-makers at government level and private sector companies, e.g. the maritime sector.

Responding to this growing need for ocean observations requires a coordinated global effort, a challenge that the Global Ocean Observing System – GOOS, for short – is ready and willing to meet. Through the collective efforts of scientists and governments, GOOS works to build a truly integrated global ocean observing system that is responsive to the needs of a global community bent on conserving our ocean and developing its resources responsibly and sustainably.

GOOS has provided essential support to climate science and its relevant policy and management applications since it was established in 1991 as a joint programme of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Science Council.

Building partnerships to reinforce the links between science, policy and society, the new GOOS Strategy for 2030 aims to deliver an integrated global ocean observing system that provides the essential information we need for our sustainable development, safety, wellbeing and prosperity.

In this new globalized system, information about major atmospheric and ocean processes can make seasonal forecasts more accurate, improve planning in farming, construction, insurance, and public health, and the management of water, ecosystem and wildfires. New, lower-cost technologies will greatly enhance our capability to observe the oceans. Networks of gliders, autonomous underwater vehicles, Argo floats, moorings and research platforms will send real-time measurements to open databases, complementing satellite observations of the ocean surface.

The public will have access to the same information as policy makers. In fact, they are invited to become themselves part of the process, collecting ocean observations locally. Citizens will have a myriad of information at their fingertips, enriching their coastal and marine experiences or supporting their choice and conduct of marine based activities.

Clearly, achieving this ambitious vision cannot be the sole responsibility of the scientific community. It requires the commitment of many other actors: in the private and public sectors, working at global and local scales, including the end-users of the ocean data and knowledge. Building the ocean observing system we need for the next decade requires all ocean observations stakeholders to build partnerships and coordinate a global response to the emerging demands of society for information they need to develop a sustainable blue economy.

Around GOOS’ call for global coordinated action, major ocean frameworks such as the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) provide a global structure to build partnerships among a global network of scientific institutions and national governments and turn information into knowledge for the benefit of citizens of all walks of life.

An Implementation Plan complements the 2030 Strategy, and is open for contributions by all ocean stakeholders who wish to take part in this global effort.

For more information on GOOS 2030 Strategy, please contact Albert Fischer, Program Director, GOOS Office: a.fischer@unesco.org

GOOS 2030 Strategy video