There is a crucial need for targeted natural and social science research that builds our understanding of ocean processes, helps identify possible solutions to critical challenges, and provides the knowledge needed to catalyse transformational changes in human behaviour. A variety of efforts to identify ocean research priorities have been undertaken in the past at national and regional levels, often through agency-led approaches that draw on eminent scientists for advice.
Understanding differences in research priorities among scientists from different disciplines and regions is particularly important given the need to provide balanced science advice to policy-makers and to bring cross-disciplinary research insights specifically to bear on cross-cutting ocean challenges.
The growing move toward trans-disciplinary and sustainability science is well-recognized in the environmental field and will likely become increasingly important as scientists are called on to provide various types of science advice that help address society's most pressing and complex problems.
Clear communication pathways and interfaces between the research and policy communities are recognized as essential tools for enhancing research and the application of science to human welfare.
Very few countries have developed a national marine policy or plan which is supported by an ocean research and technology plan; in most cases, they exist as a section of the national science and technology framework but are not necessarily with national sustainable development objectives.
The IOC will compile and make available, through electronic means, the existing national (and/or regional) ocean research plans. This could be done through the GOSR (Global Ocean Science Report). Understanding the range of priorities across industry, society and government could guide scientists as to how their scientific priorities align with societal needs.
The IOC could promote such potential targeted actions for the development of national marine science management procedures and related policies include the following:
- Advice for national and regional marine policy making, assistance and training in the development and implementation of science-based marine strategic plans
- Training for marine ecosystem management, marine spatial planning (MSP) and marine assessment
- Training in best practices —“proven marine technology”— related to the implementation of international agreements that have a potential to enhance national capacity to monitor and evaluate the protection and conservation of marine ecosystems. Many countries are now in the process of preparing their national marine development plans. This would give unique opportunities to align and integrate IOC’s international and regional strategies and programmes with national ones.
- Establish CD focused regional networks (Community of practices) bringing together science community and policy makers (through IOC Sub-Commissions, UNEP Regional Seas and Large Marine Ecosystems, as well as other opportunities).