From agreement to action, how Ocean Census is taking on a global challenge to seek and discover ocean life before it’s too late.
Today we’re celebrating the UN’s International Day for Biological Diversity, a vitally important moment to raise global awareness and appreciation for life in our ocean — the life that makes all life on Earth possible.
We know that marine habitats and biodiversity are declining. Although vast, the ocean is not as remote as we might think, and the health of our ocean is important for all of us — from providing us with oxygen and water, to its vital role within food, climate and health systems, pharmaceuticals, and wider industries.
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), adopted during COP 15, set out four goals for 2050 and 23 targets for 2030. Although an important step, there remains a vast unknown — 90% of ocean life remains undiscovered. So the loss of marine biodiversity is, at best, an estimate. We can’t protect what we don’t know exists.
A lack of data and global co-ordination remains a key challenge. The theme of this year’s Biodiversity Day — from agreement to action — is urgently needed, and Ocean Census is taking this challenge on, taking a giant leap to help co-ordinate efforts globally in a race against time to discover ocean life before it’s lost.
Ocean Census is the largest scientific initiative to discover ocean life ever attempted. Over the next 10 years and beyond, scientists will harness the government, philanthropic and commercial fleets to undertake expeditions across the global ocean to seek and discover ocean life.
Recognising that sensitivity to stressors varies by species, taxonomic group and by geography, we will prioritise biodiversity hotspots that are at risk, vulnerable, or endangered.
Our goal is to help to put together a more complete picture of the extraordinary abundance and diversity of life in our ocean and provide data, information and knowledge for decision makers and the public to help catalyse improved governance.
We’re also on a mission to tell the stories of ocean life and inspire greater awareness and action, by revealing the wonder and importance of ocean life and the critical role of science, technology and innovation in accelerating the process of discovery and turning knowledge into impact.
Ocean Census will also address wider GBF goals, including providing greater equity of opportunity, building capacity, involving local communities and improving access to skills, information, technology and international networks. These activities, which will continue to develop as Ocean Census grows, will help to ensure that we can achieve a permanent legacy that lives beyond the programme’s initial 10 years, providing long-term infrastructure to continue to discover, describe and monitor the biodiversity of our largest ecosystem, the ocean.
Ocean Census is first and foremost a network of partners, from science, government, business, media, civil society and philanthropy, coming together to take on this global challenge. Ocean Census is this Alliance, and is only possible as the result of the strength of our Partners, who are all committing resources. This immense scientific cooperation embodies the global commitment required to deliver the scale and speed of impact that the ocean, our planet and people globally need, so a big Biodiversity Day thank you to Founding Partners Nekton and The Nippon Foundation, and all of our Partners who are contributing so far.
Our Shared Seas provides more information on habitat and biodiversity loss and offers a Biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas Hub with expert insight.
Biodiversity is critical to our survival. Watch & share the film ‘Why should we care’.
We are continuing to expand the Alliance and everyone can take a role. Get in touch if you would like to collaborate and join us on this critical mission.
Photo credit: François Baelen / Ocean Image Bank