Yutaka MICHIDA, Convener of the UN Decade session at UT23, Professor of University of Tokyo
A keynote session entitled ‘United Nations Decade of Ocean Science’ was organized on 7 March, 2023, in a hybrid style, at the International Symposium on Underwater Technology (UT23). It was convened and led by Prof. Yutaka Michida of Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute of the University of Tokyo, the author of this article.
United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (‘the UN Decade’, hereafter) was launched on January 1, 2021, based on the Resolutions A/RES/72/73 in 2017 and A/RES/75/239 in 2020 adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The UN Decade aims at accelerating overall scientific activities in the ocean toward full achievements of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in relation to the ocean, particularly SDG-14 (life below water), and has set seven societal outcomes including ‘A clean ocean’, ‘A health and resilient ocean’, ‘A predicted ocean’, ‘A safe ocean’, A sustainable productive ocean’, ‘A transparent and accessible ocean’, and ‘An inspiring and engaging ocean’ to provide a wide range of science-based solutions. It has also identified ten challenges such as, for examples, ‘Unlock ocean-based solutions to climate change’ (#5) and ‘Expand the global ocean observing system’ (#7).
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) took a lead to develop and publish the UN Decade Implementation Plan in response to the request by the UNGA as stated in Resolution A/RES/72/75. The implementation plan clearly describes three objectives of the UN Decade as follows,
- Identify required knowledge for sustainable development and increase the capacity of ocean science to deliver needed ocean data and information;
- Build capacity and generate comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the ocean, including human interactions and interactions with the atmosphere, cryosphere and the land-sea interface;
- Increase the use of ocean knowledge and understanding, and develop capacity to contribute to sustainable development solutions.
For effective implementation of the UN Decade taking fully into account the above mentioned 3 objectives, 7 societal outcomes and 10 Decade challenges, it is essentially important for us to take innovative approaches to, for example, integrated ocean observing system, and to amplify access to existing and newly developing technologies.
With such circumstances the keynote session for the UN Decade was organized to enhance closer collaboration between marine engineering and science communities, and to provide a triggering opportunity for practical dialogue among them.
As the kick-off session, an introductory talk was made by Prof. Michida, followed by two invited talks by Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, the Executive Secretary of IOC, and by Prof. Dr. Noraieni Haji Mokhtar (Malaysia), a member of the Decade Advisory Board, successively. Dr. Ryabinin joined online while Dr. Haji Mokhtar did in person.
Dr. Ryabinin made a presentation entitled ‘UN Decade of Ocean Science and Engineering for Sustainable Development,’ to provide an overview of the UN Decade including historical development since initial concept raised in 2016 and the present status of implementation. His talk also covered the potential of the UN Decade for future development direction of marine engineering community and also the potential of the marine engineering community as a key stakeholder in the UN Decade implementation, and then encouraged the marine engineering community to consider to more actively participate in and contribute to the UN Decade implementation (Figure 1). Dr. Haji Mokhtar emphasized the importance of capacity development both in ocean science and marine engineering including technologies related to marine renewable energy development in her talk entitled ‘Capacity Development and Innovations in Ocean Science and Marine Engineering for Sustainable Development.’ Her talk also covered the issues of equality in engagement in the UN Decade, namely geographic balance or regional perspectives in other words, and gender and generation balances, by reporting the result of her initiative of an online meeting in 2021 ‘Deep dive into the journey of women in ocean science’ that invited four leading lady oceanographers from Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia.
After these impressive presentations, a short Q&A and discussion session was moderated by Prof. Michida (Figure 2). The UN Decade should be a once-in-a-life opportunity not only for participating oceanographers in the Decade, but also for marine engineers, and closer collaborations between the two communities in co-designing the UN Decade actions to be proposed, for example, are highly expected. As one practical possibility, Dr. Ryabinin suggested that a marine engineering session can be organized in the 2nd International Ocean Decade Conference to be held in Barcelona, April 2024 (https://ioc.unesco.org/news/barcelona-host-2024-un-ocean-decade-conference).
The session was rather short, only for 70 minutes, but really constructive with many suggestions including those from the floor (Figure 3). I, as the convener, do hope this would be of some help for further enhancement in contributions from marine engineering community to the UN Decade.
Deepest appreciation from us, UT 23 LOC team should be extended to the Ocean Engineering Society for its continuous support to the keynote session, with which the session was able to invite Prof. Dr. Noraieni Haji Mokhtar to join in person from Malaysia.