The present IOCARIBE Medium Term Strategic Science Plan (2006-2015) has been developed to fulfil Recommendation IOC/SC-IOCARIBE–VI.10 “Evaluation and Upgrading the Scientific Research and Training Component in the Regional Projects” of the Sixth Session of the Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (San José, Costa Rica from 26 to 29 April 1999).

The Science Plan takes into consideration the document “Annotated Outline for the Scientific Plan” as a result of the First Workshop to formulate the Scientific Plan (Veracruz, Mexico, 1–3 December 1999); the document “Framework for the IOCARIBE Strategic Science Plan and Related Services 2001-2010” prepared during the IOCARIBE Ad-hoc Group of Experts Workshop to Formulate the Strategic Science Plan 2001–2010 (Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, 14–16 November, 2001); the document “IOC Ocean Sciences Section: Perspectives and Expected Results” (IOC/INF-1206,2005) and Recommendations adopted by Member States during the VI, VII, and VIII Sessions of the IOC Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (IOCARIBE) (San Jose, Costa Rica, 26–29 April, 1999, Veracruz, Mexico, 25–28 February 2002 and Recife, Brazil, 14–17 April 2004).

The objectives of the IOCARIBE Strategic Science Plan are to: (i) support strategic planning of IOCARIBE Member States in relation to the development of its marine sciences, oceanic observations and associated services; (ii) facilitate a coherent management of regional programmes related to the marine-coastal environment and its resources; (iii) strengthen scientific basis for supporting IOC's regional programmes. The plan identifies the following Main Lines of Action: Oceans and Climate; Ocean Ecosystem Science; Marine Science for Integrated Coastal Area Management; and Extreme and Dangerous Natural Events.

SIDS are particularly vulnerable and at high risk concerning climate change and natural hazards. Often they are the first to feel the effects of global environmental problems, due to their often small size, isolated locations. It is clear that most SIDS countries are keenly aware of the importance of the marine environment and its resources to their sustainable development and economic stability. SIDS countries, however, are sometimes constrained by weak institutions and administrative processes and need enhanced human, technical, and financial resources to develop and implement cross-cutting approaches to the planning and management of oceans and coasts.

On the issue of coastal policy, the Mauritius Strategy called for integrated coastal management policies supported by the management of coastal ecosystems, including coral reefs, the implementation of networks of marine protected areas, and called for support from the international community to address the issue of coral. IOCARIBE has been instrumental in strengthening and enhancing the capacity of Caribbean SIDS to implement the Mauritius Strategy and other Conventions and protocols like the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Cartagena Convention.

The increasing impacts of climate change coupled with the fact that these SIDS have very little or no access to the means to adapt to climate change places an enormous burden on their limited human and financial resource. Often, SIDS governments have had to divert precious budgetary resources to address damage caused by increases in extreme events. Such events as hurricanes and floods cause damage in excess of 20% of GDP in many SIDS.

IOCARIBE Capacity Building Strategy is built and focused through its programme development (e.g. GOOS, Tsunami, CLME, IODE). Capacity building should address the Member States needs and be implemented through the regional programmes. IOCARIBE strength and main instrument is the networking of scientists / experts and institutions.
The Sub-Commission strategy stresses the importance of Capacity-building Pilot Programmes addressing training needs in close partnership with ICAM, LME, HAB-ANCA, IBCCA, GLOSS, IODE, ODINCARSA, GOOS, JCOMM, COOP, CEOS, WMO, UNDP, UNEP and other organizations and programmes on available operational products, remote sensing data and numerical model outputs.

As well, it points out the importance of regional networks of scientists and stakeholders participating in Pilot programmes that should facilitate to nucleate a Regional Resources Hub where they could continue working together and creating products specifically for regional communities.

It is also underlined the need for carrying out country-specific programmes. Particularly, in the IOCARIBE Region where countries capacities for marine scientific research are asymmetrically developed. Special attention should be given to building-up institutional and legal frameworks, mutual assistance, and transfer of technology. Given the diversity of countries’ capacity, it is clear that small countries do not have the same level of expertise.

The Capacity Building efforts implemented in the IOCARIBE Region should focus in strengthening the institutions to ensure a long lasting capacity.

IOCARIBE SIDS actively participated in the UN SIDS Conference (September 2014 Samoa). UN Member States formally adopted the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action – or SAMOA Pathway. SIDS nations have identified addressing the gap in ocean science capacity as a prerequisite for sustainably managing the vast ocean spaces and resources under their national jurisdiction. This is a strong call to IOC to respond to SIDS requests and should be integrated into the IOC Programmes and IOC Capacity Development Strategy.

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