Established in 1960, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO promotes international cooperation to learn more about, and better manage, the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas. It is the primary body in the United Nations (UN) system for coordinating marine science. Its programmes cover:
- Capacity Development
- Ocean Observations and Services
- Ocean Sciences
- Tsunami Warning and Mitigation Systems
Each programme has to address at least one of four high level objectives:
- Preventing and reducing the impacts of natural hazards
- Migrating the impacts of, and adapting to, climate change and variability
- Safeguarding the health of ocean ecosystems
- Promoting management procedures & policies for the sustainability of coastal & ocean environment & resources.
Athough not conducting research itself, IOC coordinates activities on behalf of (and funded by) its Member Sates and, where appropriate, works with other intergovernmental organisations and international partners. IOC also brings together groups of experts to provide scientific advice, including the publication of summaries for policy makers. Recent (2014–2015) publications in the IOC-UNESCO Ocean Sciences section include:
- Directory of Atmospheric, Hydrographic and Biogical Datasets for the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem
- Oceanographic and biological features in the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem
- Coastal Blue Carbon: methods for assessing carbon stocks and emmission factors in mangroves, tidal salt marshed and seagrass meadow
- A scientific summary for policy makers on Harmful Algal Blooms
The activites of IOC are summarised in the Biennial Report. The most recent report was published in 2014, reflecting the activites over the 2012–2013 period. Click here to download the report.
Responsibility for handling IOC matters, including ensuring appropriate UK representation at IOC and its subsidiary bodies, is devolved by Government to the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC). Tasks are carried out by the UK IOC Delegation, funded by NERC, and hosted within the International and Strategic Partnerships Office at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton. The UK IOC office works with the national stakeholders calling on the expertise of scientists, policy makers and marine partners throughout the UK to guide the activities of the UK IOC Delegation.
IOC has traditionally been represented by the UK Head of Delegation on the Marine Science Coordination Committee (MSCC) International Working Group (IWG). As of May 2015 the UK IOC Head of Delegation, Steve Hall, has also taken on the role of Chair of the MSCC IWG, thereby aligning to some extent the activities of the UK-IOC Delegation and the MSCC IWG. Good liaison is also maintained with the UK’s Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and the UK National Commission for UNESCO.
UK inputs have taken place at all levels from providing leadership (the UK has been the chair or vice chair of IOC itself, and of several subsidiary bodies), membership of working groups, task teams and expert groups, through to substantial participation in IOC programmes and projects. The UK is currently a member of both the IOC General Assembly and is currently an elected member of the IOC Executive Council. The UK-IOC delegation acts as the main contact point between the UK and the IOC secretariat in Paris, and is responsible for ensuring that the UK marine community is able to interact with IOC and vice versa. The Head of the UK delegation is responsible for representing the UK at the General Assembly and the Executive Council (if elected).
To find out more about the current activities that the UK IOC delegation is involved with please visit the activities page.
Trevor Guymer (Past head of UK-IOC delegation)
Mike Osbourne (OceanWise Consulting)
Alan Evans (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)
Maria Baker (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)
Ed Hill (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)
Ellen Harrold (Intern, University of Glasgow)