UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030: Mediterranean Workshop 'The Mediterranean Sea We Need for the Future We Want'


Group Picture
Group Picture

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030: Mediterranean Workshop ‘The Mediterranean Sea We Need for the Future We Want’, held 21-23 January 2020 at the UNESCO-IOC Office in Venice (Italy) and organized by the Italian Oceanographic Commission (COI), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO/IOC), European Commission (EC), United Nations Environment/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP), Mediterranean Science Commission (CIESM), in collaboration with the BlueMed Initiative, brought together 159 experts from 32countries across Europe, Africa, Asia and Nord America.

Targeting specifically the Mediterranean region, the aim was to define and address regional issues and science questions  to contribute to the development of the Implementation Plan of UN Decade in order to take into consideration the regional emerging environmental and ecosystem developments, new policy requirements, latest scientific and data advances, technological breakthroughs and evolving societal demands. 

The workshop, structured around smaller and facilitated working groups and presentations, allowed to identify the following specific priorities for the Mediterranean to meet the Decade's six societal objectives interpreted by declining them in the perspective of the Mediterranean Sea uniqueness.

WG I: A clean Mediterranean Sea

“The aim of this group for the Decade is fostering new ideas for integrated research to assess the human and environmental risks of on the Mediterranean Sea; to provide innovative knowledge base for mitigation and remediation; and to address impacts on key economy drivers in the Mediterranean Area. To this end, it is recommended to: 

  • strengthen Regional assessments and monitoring plans of marine litter, eutrophication and chemical contaminants in the Mediterranean Sea by consideration of ocean science and innovative approaches; harmonising the methodology; enhancing governance for ocean science and management; and enhancing capacity development, shared knowledge and technologies;
  • Promote the concept of data sharing, education for sustainable development and active involvement of civil society and blue economy;
  • Promote and implement regional cooperation, common laboratory facilities and centres in the Mediterranean Region;
  • Integrate coastal and deep sea research promoting regional marine spatial planning in the region, and-upscaling clean Ocean regional initiatives.
  • Acknowledge the IMAP adopted in the framework of MAP BC as the minimum common base for monitoring and assessment of marine and coastal environment in the Med.”

Presentations: PDF Collected Outputs: PDF 

WG II: A healthy & resilient Mediterranean Sea

“The accelerated paths of change of the Mediterranean Sea, and the possibility to work on a high number of diversified ecosystems at a quite accessible spatial scale provide unique opportunities to test ecological theories. On the other side, innovative management strategies based on ‘socio-ecological systems’ could benefit of test-case studies in the Mediterranean multi-cultural, socio-economic diversified regional setting. 

The renowned expertise of Mediterranean scientific community in operational oceanography and forecasting represents a remarkable strength to build on for future modelling exercises to improve spatial resolution, and integrate new variables (benefiting of local knowledge, inter alia) and scale-up so as to better deal with complex systems.”

Presentations: PDF Collected Outputs: PDF 

WG III: A predicted Mediterranean Sea

“A predicted ocean whereby society has the capacity to understand current and future marine conditions, forecast their change and impact on human well-being and livelihoods is a priority of the Ocean Decade. In the last 30 years, the Mediterranean scientific community developed an observing and forecasting capacity on the basis of best practices in monitoring and modeling. Now, the Mediterranean multi-platform observing and forecasting system, constituting the European and national contribution to the GOOS, can serve as the starting basis to achieve the Decade goals. During the Decade the lack of sustained in situ observations for several Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs), particularly biological variable and gaps in observation on Central-Eastern Mediterranean and on the Northern African coasts, should be filled. The opportunity to extend the range of observables from space should be exploited as well as the synergy between space and in situ observation and new technology and methodologies should be expended to improve predictive capabilities of ecosystems state and functions. The Mediterranean Sea could be a laboratory for Early Warning Observations and predictive capabilities for the assessment of the impacts of climate change and multi-stressors on the marine ecosystem and in the coastal environment. In the multi-cultural context and the geo-political diversity of Mediterranean countries, to promote and implement regional cooperation, and develop capacity building and ocean literacy programs will play crucial.  During the Decade, we will promote the collaboration among science community, UNEP/MAP Barcelona Convention, the BlueMed Initiative and national policy makers in order to address policy requirements and contribute to UN SDGs.”

Presentations: PDF Collected Outputs: PDF

Proposal for a United Nations decade of the ocean programme. A call for contributions for the proposal of a UN-Decade of the Ocean Programme entitled 'Predicting the global coastal ocean: toward a more resilient society' is open until the 17 of March 2020. You can have a look at the proposal, submit your comments and endorse it at

WG IV: A safe Mediterranean Sea

“Impact-based forecasting of marine multi-hazard early warning systems represent a major knowledge and implementation gap. These impacts affect not only marine life but also human health. The influence of climate change on hazard and risk should be also addressed. Full uncertainty quantification and communication is of utmost importance. This requires a multi-disciplinary approach, including social sciences, and involvement of politics and the private sector. It was also recommended to improving coastal and deep sea observational systems and to fully integrate and exploit existing networks in a sustainable way; strive for capacity building based on common risk understanding for risk managers, together with the development of a self-protection culture.”

Presentations: PDF Collected Outputs: PDF 

WG V: A sustainable (harvested and) productive Mediterranean Sea

“Ensuring a sustainably harvested and productive Mediterranean Sea will depend on the development of a sustainable economy, management of resources, and on the integration of marine spatial planning with coastal management. Define science-based safe and sustainable thresholds for economic operations in the Mediterranean Sea driving the sustainable exploitation of non-renewable resources and the resources based on the Mediterranean Sea natural and cultural heritage. Encompass sustainable food production and the links between tourism and the environment in the perspective of the circular and inclusive blue economy. During the Decade, we will promote the development of new innovative technological solutions for harvesting including blue biotechnology, the consolidation of our knowledge on existing living and non-renewable resources, the definition of science-based baselines and thresholds of sustainability, and the identification of the trade-offs between ecological dynamics and socio-economics needs. Local communities will be strongly involved into the decision process and synergies between tourisms and other productive, public and private, sectors will be promoted. Tourisms should also be sustainable and connected with our cultural heritage and protected areas. During the Decade, the community should move towards a Mediterranean Sea as a shared sea, where any best practice will have an extra value to address policy and decisions in the future.”

Presentations: PDF Collected Outputs: PDF 

WG VI: A transparent & accessible Mediterranean Sea

“Maximize the sharing of knowledge about the health, evolution and functioning of Mediterranean marine environment due to its vulnerability; pursue marine open data approach to fill present gaps and boost advancement in scientific knowledge and innovation; understand the future links with economy and societal needs by ensuring the complete openness of scientific knowledge and supporting the formulation of environmental policy and management plans, unlocking ideas and innovation. Enhance the "Mediterranean Sea literacy", and participatory research, improve connection and collaboration with existing Mediterranean networks and organizations that work on science communication and outreach, harmonized among the riparian countries.”

Presentations: PDF Collected Outputs: PDF

The Mediterranean Workshop offered the opportunity to discuss the following issues:

Capacity development and transfer of marine technology; Presentations: PDF 

“Sharing capacity, developing entrepreneurship in sustainable ocean economy sectors, design joint education strategies, mix art, science and education are among the inputs related to one of the highest priority topics in the Mediterranean agenda: capacity building and technology transfer. Tailored university programmes and blue skills actions oriented to bridge employability (40 million full-time equivalent blue jobs estimated worldwide by 2030) are being implemented in the area, meeting the needs of industry and society. The role of relevant partnerships, public-private alliances, university networks shall be recognized as engine of this process, providing the competent work force in a fast changing environment. Transforming capacity building and marine and maritime technology transfer to make it even across the Basin as a means of cohesion is the opportunity not to be missed in the Decade, addressing kids, scientists, decision-makers and stakeholders. Functional governance frameworks and more openness to innovation and mobility are the needed enablers.”

Additional thematic aspects are associated to the outputs of different Working Groups.

Communicating the Decade; Presentations: PDF 

The main aim of the UN Decade of Ocean Science is to move the cutting-edge of ocean science forward, but also be a major step forward in ocean literacy for various categories of people. The motivation for the Decade itself comes from the realization of the role of ocean for people and planet and from the understanding that we still need to understand and know many processes, and elements of the marine ecosystems. In order to make everybody aware of the importance of the ocean and of ocean science in the Mediterranean it will be crucial to develop a strong communication strategy that will work in parallel with the science action plan. Communication approaches and tools will have to be adapted to different target groups identified, and use different media from TV, to social media networks. Engagement across a variety of disciplines will be crucial to foster collaborative actions underpinning all Ocean Decade’s societal areas. In this context, it will be important to reach out to art and culture that are central in the Mediterranean society. These approaches will help ensure the Decade’s messages are shared and the communication is transparent and inclusive. It will also be important to link and make use of existing initiatives, such as the Mediterranean Group of the European Marine Science Educators Association.

Per informazioni:
Rosalia Santoleri
Commissione oceanografica Italiana - COI
The Italian Oceanographic Commission is hosted by Cnr and is composed of the following member: Cnr, Ispra, CoNISMa, Dpc, Enea, Iim, Ingv, Ogs, Szn and Cmcc

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