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World - A new ocean action agenda requires more, better ocean data

There is now overwhelming evidence that the future economic and ecological prosperity of the planet depends on a healthy ocean. At the same time, the science is clear that we have pushed our planet, and especially the ocean, to the point where its ability to provide the sustainable resources and value that people need is in danger.

September 19, 2018
  • Turning commitments and ideas into the actions needed for a sustainable blue economy will require evidence and data.
  • Our ability to measure and monitor the ocean is expanding exponentially, with the amount of ocean data collected accelerating thanks to the application of emerging technologies.
  • A digitized, data-fuelled version of the ocean - an ‘Ocean Avatar’- will help researchers study and manage the ocean.

There is now overwhelming evidence that the future economic and ecological prosperity of the planet depends on a healthy ocean. At the same time, the science is clear that we have pushed our planet, and especially the ocean, to the point where its ability to provide the sustainable resources and value that people need is in danger.

Happily, the last year has seen unprecedented commitments from governments, businesses, the United Nations and others to address these problems. The UN has proclaimed 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to ensure that we have the knowledge we need to repair and restore the economic productivity of the ocean. Fourteen countries have joined together in a High Level Panel to find new solutions for a sustainable blue economy. In December, the 14 world leaders that comprise the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy put forward a new ocean action agenda underpinned by sustainably managing 100% of national waters, ensuring the health and wealth of our ocean for future generations. The transformative agenda cited harnessing ocean science, technology and data as a key priority, calling for action to promote transparent and open sharing and accessibility of ocean data.

Turning commitments and ideas into the actions needed for a sustainable blue economy will require evidence and data.

Fortunately, dramatic leaps forward in science and technology mean we have more data than ever about the ocean. The key challenge now is organizing and making sense of the new explosion of ocean data and getting it into the hands of people who need it to make decisions. To solve this challenge, the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Ocean and its partners at the World Economic Forum, the Ocean Panel, Microsoft, REV Ocean, and the World Resources Institute have joined forces to launch the Ocean Data Action Coalition (ODAC).

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