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UN Ocean Decade Conference

Barcelona International Convention Centre, Barcelona, Spain

The tagline of the Ocean Decade is "The science we need for the ocean we want" and its mission, is to produce transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and our ocean.

Between 2021-2030, the the Ocean Decade aims to tackle 10 unique challenges, each of which will help the Decade to achieve its overarching goal of an ocean which is: clean, healthy & resilient, productive, predictable, safe, accessible, and inspiring & engaging for all.

The Ocean Decade conference, held at the CCIB in Barcelona, brought together the global Ocean Decade community and its partners to celebrate and share the achievements of the Ocean Decade community over the past three years. Stakeholders from academia, non-government organisations, governments, and the private sector gathered to set a collective vision for the remainder of the Decade.

This conference acted as a milestone in which the global community were able to reflect on our progress to date, and look to the future to set new goals and aspirations for achieving a healthy and sustainable ocean future. During the conference, a set of 10 white papers were published, each of which addresses one of the ten major challenges that the Ocean Decade community aim to tackle. These white papers identify future priorities for the Ocean Decade and will help charter a course towards delivering the science we need for the ocean we want.

GO-BC is one of 50 Ocean Decade programmes which were in attendance at the Ocean Decade conference in Barcelona, and made significant contributions to several key sessions throughout.

Chair of the GO-BC programme, Professor Bill Austin, presented about the progress of the GO-BC programme at a session titled "Ocean Carbon: The Knowns and Unknowns", which was co-organised by two other Ocean Decade programmes IOC-R and OARS.

During his presentation at this session, Bill Austin, alongside Pepe Clarke from WWF, also announced the launch of a new collaborative capacity building programme between GO-BC and WWF. The partnership between GO-BC and WWF is being facilitated through the Blue Carbon Research Centre at the University of St Andrews (UK), where the GO-BC Secretariat and Chair are based.

Several other members of the GO-BC Science Technical Working group were also in attendance at the conference, including: Kirsten Isensee (IOC-UNESCO) who chaired the session "Ocean Carbon: The Knowns and Unknowns"; Jana Friedrich (IAEA) who was a panelist at the same session; Vanessa Hatje (IAEA) who presented a plenary talk on the white paper for Challenge 1, which is to "Beat and Understand Marine Pollution of the Ocean Vision 2030"; and Ana Querios (PML) who presented about the "MSpace Early Warning System" during a session focused on "Science and Solutions for a Safe and Predictable Ocean".

Many inspirational speeches and intriguing panel discussion took place over the course of the three days in Barcelona, all of which were driven by our collective optimism that we can achieve a healthy and sustainable ocean by 2030. Both H.E Wavel Ramkalawan of Seychelles and H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco discussed the importance of co-designing and co-delivering ocean science to achieve the healthy oceans we want.

To this end, and in the closing plenaries at the Ocean Decade conference, the Barcelona Statement was was published. This document identifies the future priorities for ocean knowledge and science generation and uptake, based upon the past three years of hard work by the Ocean Decade community, in addition to the discussions which took place over the course of the conference.

The Barcelona statement highlights the need to co-design and co-deliver science and knowledge if we are wanting to achieve a healthy and sustainable ocean. To quote Cynthia Barzuna of WRI, "there is no wealthy ocean without a healthy ocean". This message should resonate with all stakeholders because we are all linked to the ocean in one way or another, whether it is through our work, economies or cultural heritage. It is therefore in our collective best-interest to protect and preserve our oceans to ensure that we have a sustainable ocean future.

For an additional reflective piece on the Ocean Decade conference by our Chair, Prof. Bill Austin, follow the link to the article written for "The Conversation" below. coming soon...

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