Why we need to invest in ocean science?

In 2017, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO published the first Global Ocean Science Report, an assessment of national investments and capacities in oceanography.

According to this report, on average, 70 percent of the world’s total budget for ocean science comes from public funding at the national level, which is only about 4.5 percent of global governmental funding for natural sciences.

Why is this information important? Because it is ocean science that ultimately enables governments and other actors to protect the ocean and its resources.

People rely intensely on the ocean for food, transportation, tourism, energy production and a host of other economic activities. At the same time, the ocean’s deteriorating health threatens its ability to continue providing for human livelihoods, to sustain ecosystems, moderate and mitigate climate change, and even produce oxygen. When we add to the equation trends such as increased globalization and demographic expansion, the outlook is fairly bleak.

It’s clear that if we want to save the ocean, we need to recognise – politically and practically – that investing in ocean science is worth our while.

Actually, we have been investing in ocean science – but just not enough. Current collective national investments via the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) are roughly at $1 billion a year. This seems reasonable up to the point when we compare the numbers to the OECD’s very conservative estimate that by 2030 the ocean economy will be worth $3 trillion.

Effective management of our ocean will not come without a major increase in funding of ocean science, observations and their international coordination. Some countries have fully recognised the potential of ocean science and its workforce.

For example, systematic investments in ocean science in Norway helped the country to have far more ocean science researchers per capita than any other nation. Norway is leading on generating value from sustainable use of the ocean and its resources. The Norway examples is inspiring, but more countries need to step up.

At the same time, it is also import for individuals to realize the great value of the ocean. First step: let’s join The Universal Sea and learn more about the ocean!

Find out where you can participate and join our community of change-makers!

Meet us next week at the first Water Festival in Berlin !