Multilateral Science-Policy Partnerships Generating the Evidence to Underpin SDG Implementation | JPI OCEANS

Multilateral Science-Policy Partnerships Generating the Evidence to Underpin SDG Implementation


Multilateral Science-Policy Partnerships Generating the Evidence to Underpin SDG Implementation

On 7 June 2017, JPI Oceans together with international partners organised the briefing "Multilateral Science-Policy Partnerships: Generating the Evidence to Underpin SDG Implementation" as a side event to the UN Ocean conference in New York.

The side-event highlighted the importance of scientific evidence and knowledge for the sustainable development of the oceans and the realisation of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. In particular, the briefing stressed the key role of international partnerships for generating and providing the scientific evidence for a knowledge-based governance of the ocean and the need to use and build on existing partnerships such as JPI Oceans, the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, the G7 efforts on the Future of the Ocean, IOC-UNESCO and its proposal for an International Decade of Ocean Science as well as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Moreover, the briefing showcased a number of cutting-edge research endeavours which are working on delivering the necessary knowledge for an effective governance of the Oceans.

The side-event took place in the context of the high-level United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources hosted by the Governments of Fiji and Sweden at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. At the conference, Governments, the United Nations system, other international organisations, NGOs and civil society organisations, academic and research institutions, the private sector, philanthropic organisations and other actors announced 1402 voluntary commitments geared at driving implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 and its associated targets. Furthermore, the Conference adopted by consensus an intergovernmentally agreed Call for Action Our Ocean, Our Future to support the implementation of Goal 14.


Tim Eder (BMBF), German member of the JPI Oceans Management Board, presented how the member countries of JPI Oceans were cooperating to provide scientific evidence for effective governance of the oceans. Tim highlighted how through the alignment and integration of national research efforts, member countries were creating evidence as a foundation for informed decision-making, for instance in the field of microplastics and deep-sea mining. Moreover, JPI Oceans was working on expanding its cooperation internationally.


Craig McLean (NOAA) outlined how the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance is seeking to increase knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean and its dynamic systems by aligning ocean observation efforts to improve ocean health and stewardship and promote the sustainable management of its resources. In particular, he highlighted the need for joint mapping to better understand what the oceans and its resources the international community was trying to sustain and protect. With only 15% of ocean depths directly measured and 50% of the world’s coastal waters not even surveyed, Craig therefore called for an international campaign to map the Atlantic and the global ocean.


On behalf of Italian G7 Presidency, Marco Borra gave an update of the cooperation of the G7 states on the Future of the Ocean. The G7 are working together to (i) support an initiative for enhanced global sea and ocean observation (ii) support an enhanced system of ocean assessment through the UN Regular Process to develop a consensus view on the state of the oceans; (iii) promote open science and improvement of the global data sharing infrastructure; (iv)strengthen collaborative approaches to encourage the development of regional observing capabilities and knowledge networks; and (v) promote G7 political‐cooperation by identifying actions needed to enhance routine ocean observations.


Chair of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, Peter Haugan, presented the proposal for an International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. The aim of the decade would be to build an inventory of marine resources and identify opportunities to manage these resources in a sustainable manner, gain a better quantitative knowledge of the ocean bottom and water column ecosystems, understand the impacts of cumulative stressors on the ocean and recommend specific actions to obtain more benefit from the ocean,  and share knowledge and enhance capacities through the transfer of marine technology, leading to economic benefits for SIDS and Least Developed Countries.


Researcher from Stockholm University, Matt McLeod, showcased the results of the JPI Oceans Weather-MIC project to understand the environmental impacts of microplastic in the marine environment and how weathering of plastic in the ocean changes its transport, fate and toxicity. He informed that science could say with certainty that the global ocean is polluted with plastic, trends are not clearly established, but the pollution cannot readily be reversed, and that adverse effects on wildlife have been observed even in remote areas. Moreover, Matt asserted that pollution that is globally distributed and poorly reversible (like plastic) fits the profile of a planetary boundary threat.


Libby Jewett, Director of the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program, showed what science was doing to study and address the impacts of ocean acidification. Libby stressed the importance of the development of new sensors that would enable a better and more precise measurement of ocean acidification and the impact it has on the marine environment. Expanding and improving global efforts to train scientists would also be necessary to assess the full scale of ocean acidification.


Ann Vanreusel (Ghent University) outlined which input and knowledge is the scientific community currently generating for the governance of deep-sea ecosystems. Drawing on the latest knowledge from the JPI Oceans MiningImpact project as well as the EU-funded MIDAS project, Ann presented concrete policy recommendation that the scientific community had developed to inform the ongoing deliberations at the International Seabed Authority for the regulation of seabed mining. Amongst others, she highlighted that (i) conservation areas need to match habitat characteristics of mined areas, (ii) the need to define indicators of ecosystem health and threshold values for “harmful effects” on the environment as well as rules for avoiding or mitigating them, (iii) the need for standardization of monitoring technology, and (iv) the need to develop a concept for spatial management and restoration to minimize large-scale impacts.


Finally, Anne Christine Brusendorff, ICES General Secretary, showed how the ICES scientific community was working to provide advice on fishing opportunities, including special advice on climate change and projections for moving stocks/species distribution, on sensitivity and vulnerability of stocks to climate change, on changes in fish distribution and on the impact of fisheries on the seafloor. As such, ICES science provides important scientific advice that helps to ensure the implementation of SDG14 and for the sustainable management of the ocean and its resources.


In the discussion that followed panellists highlighted the need to generate and provide scientific advice. In order to enable informed and effective decision-making and governance of the ocean, international collaboration between ministries and research funding agencies to jointly fund new knowledge generation as well as efficient and effective science-policy partnerships and processes are of fundamental importance. Panellists stressed that we should build on existing international partnerships, that we need to learn, exchange practice and partner globally as well as improve these mechanisms in order to meet the 2030 targets.

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