State of the ocean report 2022: pilot edition

This pilot edition of the State of the Ocean Report (StOR) was proposed and developed to demonstrate the feasibility of keeping the world up to date on the current state of the ocean. Building on examples from IOC-led or joint initiatives, the report is structured around the initial Challenges of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021–2030.

The StOR reveals a lack of reliable benchmarks in many aspects of ocean knowledge. Most sections in the report tend to be descriptive and qualitative, consistent with the recent seminal Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessment (IPBES, 2019) that stated: ‘human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before’. The IPBES further elaborates: ‘marine ecosystems, from coastal to deep sea, now show the influence of human actions, with coastal marine ecosystems showing both large historical losses of extent and condition as well as rapid ongoing declines (established but incomplete)’. Indeed, a key conclusion from the pilot StOR is that ocean knowledge is generally able to identify (‘establish’) issues but falls short of these being comprehensive and, hence, actionable (‘incomplete’) – ‘one cannot manage what one cannot measure’.

There is, therefore, an urgent need for a quantitative description of the state of the ocean, with established benchmarks and the capacity to report changes. The overall aim remains – to produce (probably annually) a brief, accessible, one-stop overview of the current state of the ocean, and to mobilize global society to act towards ‘the ocean we need for the future we want’ as a contribution to sustainable development, and in particular to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. To achieve this, the StOR must be more encompassing. So, for subsequent editions, the IOC will invite contributions from UN agencies and professional organizations, turning the StOR into a pan-UN publication.

Enevoldsen H., Isensee K. & Yoon I., 2022. State of the ocean report 2022: pilot edition. IOC UNESCO. Report.

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