March 2023 Beacon

Ocean Decade initiative – into the second year, and gathering steam

Hari Vishnu, Amy Deeb, Laura Meyer, M. A. Atmanand, with inputs from Ocean Decade initiative committee

As the UN Decade of Ocean sciences for sustainable development 2021-2030 ( – Ocean Decade, or “Decade” for short) enters into its third year, it is generating increasing enthusiasm in the ocean science and engineering communities. To bridge the society with this movement, and to spread the message wider, IEEE OES has formed the Ocean Decade Initiative Committee (ODIC). The initiative aims to spread awareness on the Ocean Decade goals to IEEE members, and to encourage members to contribute to these goals. If you want to get involved in any of the activities being undertaken by the committee or propose a new idea, the ODIC is always open to new volunteers please email us at

There are abundant opportunities for raising awareness of the Decade in our OES communities through our various arms – the chapters, student branch chapters, technology committees, conferences, workshops and symposia, and through individual members themselves. The Decade is also an opportunity to connect with other IEEE Societies and bodies that have a common interest in the goals of the Decade, and our communities can engage in the goals by partnering with science events and organizations to share IEEE members’ expertise.

The initiative made some good progress in 2022. Firstly, let us point you to the initiative website that was launched at It contains updated information on our aims, mission, past activities, and upcoming ones. Check it out to keep abreast of the initiative activities, and to explore opportunities that you can tap into to participate in the Decade via OES.

You may know that several OES events in 2022 were already endorsed by the Ocean Decade – this includes OCEANS Chennai 2022, OCEANS Hampton Roads, AUV Symposium 2022 and the Singapore AUV Challenge (SAUVC). This is another good way to participate in the Decade, and use the momentum provided by this worldwide movement to improve the visibility of our exciting efforts.

Another important step we undertook in 2022 was attending the UN Ocean Conference. Three of our volunteers had the honor of representing IEEE, the largest association of technical professionals in the world, at this conference. This was an important event to bridge with other like-minded societies and to form connections that would be important in achieving our goals. You can read more about it in another article in this Beacon issue. One of the recent outcomes of this visit was that a contact we established at the conference, Ocean Visions, got involved in OCEANS Hampton Roads. They organized a special session on Carbon Dioxide removal in an outreach effort to the engineering sector, which was very engaging and lively. More such exciting technical sessions are envisaged as part of the ODIC’s “Design the Future Ocean” objective. We also had significant engagement with the community looking into marine data interoperability, and we believe this is a key area we can get involved in, along with ocean observation, best practices and standards (see Bringing in expertise and inputs from IEEE Standards on this would be a great opportunity for OES to play an important part in the problem of how to effectively handle data generated during the Decade.

The Ocean-based Carbon-dioxide removal panel at OCEANS Hampton Roads

Further, in 2022 we launched the chapter activity initiative, and the Earthzine funding initiative. Chapters and Student Branch Chapters (SBCs) are the main vehicles of OES’s activities at the regional level, and it is important for them to lead as one of the implementers of OES’s Decade plans and bridge it with regional Decade-oriented efforts. These are also avenues to recruit volunteers. Over the duration of the initiative, Chapters/SBCs are encouraged to organize local events that relate to any of the themes of the Decade. OES is especially interested in activities that bring together ocean scientists with engineers, technologists and industry. These could be linked to any of the Decade Outcomes and Challenges, or existing Decade programmes. In the latter half of 2022, the initiative funded 6 chapters/SBCs for organizing Ocean Decade related events/activities – these included the Escuela Tecnológica Instituto Técnico Central student branch, Colombia, the Chapter and student chapter in Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Canadian Atlantic Section OES Chapter, Japan Chapter and Singapore chapter. You should see some, if not all, these activities reported in Beacon in this issue or coming issues.

The chapter activity funding initiative has been announced for 2023 as well. The details of the call are available on the ODIC website ( We encourage all chapters and student branch chapters to use this funding opportunity to develop exciting programmes and conduct events relevant to the Decade. Proposals must be submitted by April 1.

Science communication is an important direction for achieving the ocean awareness desired as one of the Decade outcomes. The OES Sci-comm magazine Earthzine, as well as Beacon, are important vehicles for this. An Earthzine theme for this was started in 2021, and invites articles on this theme to be published. As part of the Ocean Decade initiative, a funding initiative was announced in late-2022 for student reporters to write up articles covering Decade themed events and initiatives, or OES activities geared towards the Decade. For every article contributed by a student, the Ocean Decade Initiative funded the respective chapter. At OCEANS Hampton roads, student reporters signed up to cover many such events, and one of these articles has already been published (see ). More are expected to follow. The Earthzine funding initiative for Chapters/SBC student reporters continues into 2023, so if any of you out there would like to cover Ocean Decade events for Earthzine, and want to know details of how to contribute, please get in touch with the Earthzine Chief editor Hari Vishnu at .

Another important activity we are introducing this year is the Ocean Decade Ambassador Program.  As the name implies, an Ambassador is responsible for representing and supporting an organization’s goals (in this case the Decade’s goals) in another organization.  We envision this program as a way to support volunteers who wish to be such an Ambassador either from the Ocean Decade to communities within OES and IEEE, or from within OES and IEEE to the Decade.  This year, we are starting with identifying people who are already embedded in OES networks (e.g., chapter chairs, members, conference or workshop organizing committee volunteers, etc.), who are familiar with and interested in the Decade, and want to actively support and represent the Decade’s goal in their (OES) network.  Ambassadors will define a program of activities for the year that will best align with this purpose, and OES will provide mentorship, funding, and a supportive community to accelerate their work.  The 2023 call for IEEE OES Ocean Decade Ambassadors closed on February 21 and the selected Ambassadors will soon be announced.  Please visit the Ocean Decade website for more information.

Apart from this, ODIC is involved in Planet Positive 2030, an initiative supported by the IEEE Standards Association that brings together a global, open community of experts to chart a path for all people to achieve a flourishing future for 2030 and beyond. Planet positive is compiling a book towards this end, divided into several chapters contributed by different groups. We are contributing to a chapter on Ocean & Coasts. With a committee of several high-level experts, the most important topics regarding climate change related issues in the Ocean are being touched upon.

For the first time, the OES ODIC had its own booth at the OCEANS Conference in Hampton Roads in September 2022. This was a great opportunity to network and make the initiative more visible, as well as spread awareness on the Decade. We were very delighted to be featured by the IOC (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission), UNESCO, in their social media.

For 2023, one of our aims is to get more visibility and to broaden our network. Therefore, our committee members will try to attend conferences focusing on different groups, such as policy-making, industry, law, and basic sciences, to bring the importance of engineering to the Decade. Volunteers are planning on going to the World Ocean Summit in Lisbon, OTC in Houston, and OCEANS in Limerick and Gulf Coast.

As always, we are open to volunteers to help achieve our aims. Our Young Professionals have been involved with existing OES activities that already contribute to ocean awareness and education by participating in various student outreach activities around the world, such as SAUVC and the European Robotics League. We have been further synchronizing our efforts with the Decade endorsed Early Career Ocean Professional (ECOP) programme (, and OES is one of its official partners. We hope to support the ECOP programme by bringing our expertise in oceanic engineering to the table – for example, technical webinars in topic areas of our interest (e.g. acoustics, robotics etc.), and interested OES YPs are welcome to come forward to deliver these. The ECOP program also gave good visibility to some of our Decade endorsed programmes such as SAUVC, AUV Symposium and our OCEANS Hampton Roads booth via their portal, and also featured interviews with some of our members. They are continuing their visibility campaign for ECOPs who are interested, and OES ECOPs who would like to contribute are welcome to join.

Call for Chapter/SBC funding initiative