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Strategy 2014-2021

IOC Medium-Term Strategy 2014-2021

The purpose of the Commission is to promote international cooperation and to coordinate programmes in research, services and capacity-building, in order to learn more about the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas and to apply that knowledge for the improvement of management, sustainable development, the protection of the marine environment, and the decision-making processes of its Member State.

The Commission will collaborate with international organizations concerned with the work of the Commission, and especially with those organizations of the United Nations system which are willing and prepared to contribute to the purpose and functions of the Commission and/or to seek advice and cooperation in the field of ocean and coastal area scientific research, related services and capacity-building.

The IOC Medium-Term Strategy 2014-2021, defined in Decision EC-XLV/Dec.5.2 and adopted through Resolution XXVII-2 of the IOC 27th Assembly 2013, represents the medium-term strategic framework of the Commission

The IOC Medium-Term Strategy 2014-2021 notes the role of IOC as the competent body and focal point for ocean matters in the UN system, responding concretely in its mandated areas of activity to the Rio+20 Conference Sustainable Development Goals, and acting in conformity with international law, including relevant UN conventions.

The IOC Medium-and Biennial Strategies are formulated around four High-Level Objectives and eleven associated Activities, which contribute to the UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy for 2014-2021.

IOC Vision and High-Level Objectives for 2014-2021



Strong scientific understanding and systematic observations of the changing world ocean climate and ecosystems shall underpin sustainable development and global governance for a healthy ocean, and global, regional and national management of risks and opportunities from the ocean.

More specifically, through international cooperation, IOC aspires to help its Member States to collectively achieve the following high-level objectives (HLOs), with particular attention to ensuring that all Member States have the capacity to meet them:

1. Healthy ocean ecosystems and sustained ecosystem services

  Developing indicators of ocean status, and locating their tipping points relative to marine ecosystem functioning, are important in the prediction or early detection of changes in ecosystem states, and in the evaluation of ecosystem resilience. Such knowledge and analytical tools will be very valuable in ocean management in general, and in placing management of single sectors into an ecosystem-based approach. The local and regional capacities, in terms of knowledge and tools, are also central for understanding how much an ecosystem can be stressed before it moves to other states from which recovery may be difficult. Current research on these topics is still piecemeal and needs coordination.

2. Effective early warning systems and preparedness for tsunamis and other ocean-related hazards

The ultimate objective of this HLO is to reduce risk, by encouraging communities to implement effective mitigating measures and become aware of the hazards they face. As coastal development continues at a rapid pace, society is becoming increasingly vulnerable to coastal flooding and other extreme sea-level events such as tsunamis. Ensuring that nations have access to the necessary information for coastal adaptation planning and safe and secure operations in the marine environment, is dependent on continued progress in the implementation of tsunami and ocean observing systems, improvements of models of the climate systems and ocean services and the development of local decision support tools.

3. Increased resiliency to climate change and variability and enhanced safety, efficiency and effectiveness of all ocean-based activities through scientifically-founded services, adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Climate variability and change impact many elements on which human well-being depends, modifying patterns of rainfall and drought, sea-level and coastal erosion, and through temperature changes and ocean acidification, adding stress to ecosystems and impacting on the goods and services they provide. Thus, human development goals including food security, access to water resources, and preparedness and resilience to disasters are threatened. It is known that the ocean plays a key role in climate; IOC will therefore assist its Member States in developing capacity so as to enable them to develop and improve climate impact mitigation and adaptation strategies that are based on growing scientific knowledge.

4. Enhanced knowledge of emerging ocean science issues

A broad range of emerging environmental issues such as new contaminants, invasive species, marine renewable energies, the expansion and intensification of uses of marine resources, cumulative effects of human maritime activities, etc., jeopardize the conservation and sustainable use of marine spaces and ecosystems. It is important to improve our understanding of the opportunities and of the changes that are occurring within the Ocean, including the deep sea. The IOC's role is to encourage scientific research, technical analyses and syntheses of scientific information needed to effectively address these emerging issues, inform policy, and advance solutions in a timely and transparent manner.