On the 1st of July 2022, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) hosted a side event at the UN Ocean Conference 2022 in Lisbon, entitled, “Ocean and Coastal Observation and Monitoring at scale: Co-Designing the value chain from data to impact through a partnership approach”. The event was co-organized by the EU Office of the G7 FSOI, IOC-UNESCO, Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and Mercator Ocean International.
Bringing together marine experts and stakeholders, the event served to connect existing ocean and coastal observing and monitoring systems to each other and to end users and stakeholders. Thus, creating a continuous feedback loop to address needs and support the development of innovative solutions to the problems our ocean and coasts are facing.
Monitoring our ocean and coasts to provide accessible and relevant data is a requirement for effective environmental management, policy setting and decision-making. Although there are numerous ocean observation systems and great progress is being made in harmonizing and standardizing knowledge, there is much more to be done to provide decision makers with the information they need to safeguard livelihoods and the environment.
Under the leadership of the UNEP Global Environment Monitoring System for the Ocean and Coasts (GEMS Ocean) programme, the event promoted the co-design of innovative monitoring, leveraging existing and new data, importance of linking coastal and open ocean observations, fostering local and regional action and capacity development. Within the context of the UN Ocean Decade and UN SDGs, the event also highlighted the roles of the UN and the global observation community at regional, national and local user levels.
A recurring issue throughout the meeting is the need to bridge coastal and open ocean observing, engaging at scale with all relevant actors of society to foster and support data uptake and to enable local solutions to global pressures.
Another key issue raised is the need of and access to fit-for-purpose ocean and coastal data. We still lack information and data for a large part of the ocean, especially when looking at biogeochemistry, ecosystem status and climate change adaptation. The event also highlighted the vast differences in regional monitoring and observation capacity, and the role of UNEP regional sea networks together with the Observing Community to foster capacity development. All Member States, particularly Small Island Developing States and Least Developing Countries which rely on marine and coastal resources need to be able to monitor and manage their coasts autonomously and be part of the global sharing of data and knowledge. On the science-policy interface, Member States need to be engaged with at a regional level to demonstrate how ocean observing data (and operational forecasting) can be valuable tools for decision-making.
Specifically, there is an urgent need to not only fill specific data gaps based on global, regional, national, and local demands, but do so in an integrative way that enables effective decision making. Only then we can take on challenges such as coastal erosion, sea-level rise, marine pollution, habitat degradation, and overfishing in a coherent and impactful way leading to improved conservation, management and sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources.
GEMS Ocean and the G7 FSOI
The UNEP Global Environment Monitoring System for the Ocean and Coasts (GEMS Ocean) Programme aims to provide a framework for partnership and recognizes the importance of working with Member States and donors to shape a transformative service that truly bridges the gap between data, people and action. The EU Office of the G7 FSOI collaborates with GEMS Ocean as a key partner in linking G7 FSOI actions in global observations and data sharing to regional needs.
For more information on UNEP’s GEMS Ocean Programme, click here.