10 Feb 2020 - In this era of upheaval in the ocean, driven by climate change and other stressors, technological innovations offer a flood of new data and new capabilities for translating it into actionable information. From an exponential increase in the number and variety of ocean observing systems, new data sources like social media, and advances in processing techniques and visualisation, we now know more about the ocean than we’ve ever known before.
These innovations offer unprecedented potential to improve stewardship of ocean resources and ensure resilient and productive ecosystems. There’s just one problem: Most ocean data stemming from such innovations remains locked away, closely held by government agencies, companies, resource users or researchers.
Through its Decade of Ocean Science, which begins next year, the UN has recognized that the world needs more actionable information to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14, which seeks to conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas and marine resources. The UN Decade for Ocean Science presents an opportunity to leverage technological developments and make new sources of data widely known, applied and available. The data revolution could be coming to the ocean just in time.
A new paper, prepared by leading experts in support of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, found that seizing the opportunity offered by the ocean data revolution requires high-level, global action. Three key actions can build on the UN Decade of Ocean Science to create an open, actionable and equitable digital ecosystem for the ocean.