Where ocean research is funded by governments, i.e. public funding, the spending of public funding must increasingly be justified in terms of its relevance and great value to society. It is therefore important that visibility, awareness and appreciation exists at the level of the general public as well as at the level of decision/policy makers about the importance of ocean research as a contributing element to management and decision making. Research findings must therefore not only be published in scientific journals but also be reported to the general public through appropriate communication tools. These can be newsletters, newspapers, exhibitions, open door days, World Ocean Day, etc. National institutions are therefore urged to establish public information departments and a related communication strategy. Close working relationships with media (journalists) is important. This is also linked to Ocean Literacy (see Activity 5.2). The IOC will promote the development of communication programmes in ocean research institutions.
Improved communication and public information and engagement will also facilitate mobilization of funds from other sources (private and public), discussed under output 6.
Better public understanding of the ocean is an important element of resolving critical environmental challenges and supporting the science and management measures that may be required for sustainable development. Increasing ocean literacy at all levels of national, regional and local leadership will build the capacity for adaptation, enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities, promote best practices in resource management and encourage innovative solutions for a sustainable economy and disaster risk management. Leaders and citizens that have an understanding of ocean and climate science, and who can access information, will be better prepared to respond effectively to future ocean challenges. Integrated programmes of research, education and community build fundamental understanding of the importance of ocean research and coordination and elicit support for funding educational opportunities at all levels. Diverse media and formal and informal training (including virtual and distance), education and outreach are among the key ocean literacy tools. Substantial ocean literacy efforts are underway in several regions and a community of practice would facilitate sharing experience within and across regions.
The IOC could foster development of an IOC ocean literacy programme as a community of practice to share experience and best practices within and across regions and facilitate expanded strategic focus on public outreach and ocean literacy in ocean research institutions and public agencies and civil society. Common key messages about ocean literacy tailored appropriately to target the different audiences can serve as a founding principle of the community of practice.