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Building on a robust participatory process initiated in 2018, the Ocean Decade Africa Roadmap provides a coordinated framework for ocean science planning and uptake, and a foundation to monitor the achievement of Decade priorities and outcomes in the region.
With over 30,000 km of coastline and over 1.5 million km2 of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), African countries both on the continent and adjacent island states are highly dependent on the ocean and its rich resources. The ocean underpins coastal livelihoods, food security, and protects vulnerable coastal zones against extreme weather and climate events; yet, it is currently under increasing threat.
Proclaimed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (‘the Ocean Decade’) seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyse new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.
The Ocean Decade Africa Roadmap, launched on the occasion of the African Conference on Priority Setting and Partnership Development for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (May 2022), provides both an aspirational vision and a solid plan for diverse stakeholders to convene around a common set of priorities for the implementation of the Decade at the African continental level and in adjacent island states.
“The Ocean Decade presents an opportunity to build a more equitable, resilient, knowledge-based and prosperous future for Africa in harmony with nature,” said Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
Started during the preparatory phase of the Ocean Decade in 2018, the development of the Africa Roadmap was led by IOC-UNESCO in its role as coordinator of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA).  It draws on a Regional Gap Analysis completed in 2021 and a series of online multistakeholder workshops in early 2022. From the material and feedback collected, the IOC-UNESCO, WIOMSA and other regional partners identified the main regional scientific gaps, capacity-development needs and cross-cutting priorities.
This extensive stakeholder engagement process culminated in nine priority future Decade Actions:
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) promotes international cooperation in marine sciences to improve management of the ocean, coasts and marine resources. The IOC enables its 150 Member States to work together by coordinating programmes in capacity development, ocean observations and services, ocean science and tsunami warning. The work of the IOC contributes to the mission of UNESCO to promote the advancement of science and its applications to develop knowledge and capacity, key to economic and social progress, the basis of peace and sustainable development.
This targeted and tangible list is intended to facilitate discussions, foster ideas, catalyze partnerships and stimulate commitment to embark on the process of co-design and co-development of Decade programmes and projects, as one of the main gaps initially identified concerned the under-representation of African organizations in endorsed Actions.
The ultimate aim of the Roadmap, which was made possible with the generous support of the Governments of Norway and Sweden, is to generate ocean-based solutions resulting from the best available knowledge, including indigenous and local knowledge, and aided by innovation, technology and capacity development. This will contribute to creating an enabling environment for achieving sustainable development in Africa and the vision of the Ocean Decade – ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’.
Click here to read the Ocean Decade Africa Roadmap.

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