Role of Earth observations highlighted at the UN Ocean Conference

Blog / June 24, 2022

Members of the GEO community will attend the 2022 UN Ocean Conference from 27 June to 1 July to emphasize the importance of ocean observations in tackling existing and emerging environmental challenges.

The conference, co-hosted by the governments of Kenya and Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal, seeks to promote science-based innovative solutions for a sustainably managed ocean, in the spirit of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

These solutions involve the deployment of new technology and the use of Earth observation data and information to address emerging threats to health, ecology, economy and governance of the ocean, including ocean acidification and the loss of habitats and biodiversity due to climate change, marine litter and pollution, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The event takes place only a few weeks after the conclusion of the UNFCCC Climate conference in Bonn, Germany, where the first mandated Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue was held in response to the mandate from COP26 to anchor ocean-based action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The dialogue between governments and experts addressed the issues of strengthening and integrating national ocean climate action under the Paris Agreement, as well as enabling ocean climate solutions and optimizing institutional connections.

GEO Members, partners including UN organizations and government space agencies, and GEO initiatives such as GEO Blue Planet and the Marine Biodiversity Observing Network (MBON) will be represented at the conference, aiming to take on an implementing role in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Prior to the conference, the GEO Secretariat participated in the Geneva Blue Talks organized by the Geneva Environment Network to share information on ongoing GEO initiatives and engage stakeholders in the process by focusing on key issues related to SDG14.

Notably, at GEO Week 2021 – the annual, global meeting of the GEO community - the anchor session on “Climate and Ocean” highlighted the importance of the ocean for both climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as the existence of significant data gaps. The session brokered discussion around the need and potential of Earth observation to fill these data gaps, at a time when there is increasing awareness and commitment to recognize the relevance of data and science to support the global ocean agenda.

During the GEO Virtual Symposium 2022, a dedicated session on “Earth observation in support of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)” explored how Earth observation can enable ICZM/MSP, through reviewing the concepts and policy drivers, surveying available tools within the GEO Work Programme, and understanding user requirement inputs, while considering a case study for coastal zones in a least developed country. Part of the framing was linked to the climate-ocean adaptation nexus and the need for technical guidance integrating big Earth data into ICZM/MSP to improve effectiveness of measures to build resilience of coastal areas.  

Conference programme and side events

UN Ocean Conference official programme: Programme | UN Ocean Conference | United Nations

UN Ocean Conference side events programme: Side Events | United Nations

Selection of relevant side events:

  • Fostering multi-stakeholder partnership and regional cooperation for SDG14, 29 June, Altice Arena – organized by Sweden, Italy, Mauritius, Slovenia, Partnership for Regional Ocean Governance (IASS, IDDRI, TMG), UNEP PAP/RAC
  • Interoperable, Transparent, and Accessible Marine Data for the UN 2030 Agenda, the UN Decade of Ocean Science, and for the Benefit of All, 29 June, Portugal Pavilion, Expo 98 - organized by IOC-UNESCO 2022 UN Ocean Conference - Ocean Decade



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