One Ocean Summit kicks off in Brest, emphasizing importance of Ocean research

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Ocean Science Matters

The summit will advance Ocean governance to achieve sustainable ocean management, and shed light on Ocean research around the world.

10 Feb, 2022

Press release

The ocean is where all life began – it shelters 157,000 known species and up to a million species that have yet to be discovered. Earth could not breathe without the ocean – this blue lung absorbs a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, 3 billion people, almost half of humanity, depend directly on the ocean for their livelihoods.

Today, however, the future of the ocean is in jeopardy. Climate change is taking its toll. Waters are warming and becoming more acidic; ecosystems are suffering. Over the past 200 years, the planet has lost half of its coral reef cover, as well as three quarters of its mangrove forests.

According to a UNESCO report, the ocean may soon stop absorbing carbon and emit it instead. This would be a disaster, to say the least. We cannot rise to these challenges if we remain ignorant of the  ocean. Today, only 20% of the ocean’s depths have been explored, even though it covers 71% of the world’s surface. Ocean research remains poorly funded, only receiving a tiny fraction – an average of less than 2 per cent – of national research budgets.

At a time when humans are setting their sights on Mars, we need to explore the ocean, the world’s least-known continent. We must redouble our efforts to understand these depths, so we can deliver lasting solutions to the threats they face. And, because the world has the ocean in common, the only effective way we can do this is through  multilateralism.

UNESCO works towards this goal. With its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission joined by 150 Member States, and its expertise in the culture and education fields, UNESCO enables coordinated actions by governments, scientists, the private sector, civil society and other UN organizations. Together, we created the tsunami warnings system, we map the deep ocean, identify species, work to ensure that environmental education and ocean literacy are included in school curricula, and protect underwater heritage

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Today, UNESCO is ramping up this collective mobilization for the ocean, by leading the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, from 2021 to 2030. In this context, several major international summits will take place this year, amplifying our efforts to better understand – and therefore better protect – the ocean.

One such summit being organized is the One Ocean Summit, in Brest (but also being telecast virtually). Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, will deliver a speech at the Summit on Friday 11 February, mid-morning. UNESCO experts will also take part in several round tables organized from Wednesday.

Here is a video that was played at the summit outlining the importance of the Ocean:

As the video emphasizes, a recurring theme throughout the summit was: "We are the Ocean"

One Ocean Summit (OOS) translates our shared responsibility to take action for the ocean. The summit will advance ocean governance to achieve sustainable ocean management. This governance must be based on science. However, the ocean remains poorly understood, even though the understanding of its functioning is critical for the future of humanity.
The OOS will make it possible to call for shared and open ocean knowledge. With this enhanced knowledge, the summit will also strengthen the protection and regeneration of the ocean and ensure a better convergence of the climate, biodiversity and ocean agendas, including through the promotion of nature-based solutions.

OneOceanScience as an opening catalyst to:
1. Bring the voice of world's scientists to the OOS and to society at large.
2. Remind the essential role of ocean science in protecting and restoring the ocean and its ecosystems.
3. Build and carry strong messages to the workshop scheduled on 10/2: The science we need for the ocean we want. Note that OneOceanScience is endorsed by the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

You can follow the Forum on Ifremer's youtube channelthe One Planet Summit YouTube Channel, or on the One Ocean Summit virtual platform.

Agenda :

  1. Opening: A look back at OneOceanScience, A digital World Tour of Ocean & Climate Science - François Houllier, CEO of IFREMER
  2. Why we should explore the ocean as seriously as we explore space? - Thomas Pesquet, ESA astronaut
  3. What came out of COP26, especially for the ocean? - Loreley Picourt, Secretary General of the Ocean & Climate Platform
  4. The Ocean-Climate Priority Research Program: Increasing awareness of the major challenges facing the ocean:
    - Catherine Jeandel, Co-lead, Ocean-Climate priority research program (PRP) and geochemist oceanographer, CNRS
    - Yunne Shin, President of the scientific council of the Ocean-Climate priority research program and Marine ecologist, IRD
  5. Why Ocean Science Matters? Key-answers with a panel of top international scientists:
    This panel will ensure geographical diversity and advance the latest knowledge on the ocean:
    - South Pacific (1): Fiji with the Pacific Community
    - Asia (2): Japan with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Singapore with the National University of Singapore
    - Americas (2): Brazil with the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development and the U.S. with Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    - Africa (2): Tanzania with the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association and Tunisia with the Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer
    - Europe (3): Romania with the Romanian National Institute of Marine Geology and Geoecology (GeoEcoMar), Italy with the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, the Netherlands with the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)
    This segment was a whirlwind tour of Ocean research around the world, with 4-minute talks from researchers around the world sharing their innovative Ocean research and various problems being tackled in this sector.

The session ended with world-renowned climate-change researcher Jean Jouzel bringing his vision of the Ocean and Ocean sciences in the global context. The first day of the summit ended on a note highlighting the importance of the Oceans to humanity's survival, and of science in being able to surmount the challenges faced by the Ocean, with the slogan

"No science, no future." - a tagline at the summit