Ocean sustainability

Time for an "IPCC for the ocean"

A new international panel could translate ocean research into policy action. Photo: NOAA via Unsplash.

Leading ocean experts propose a new International Panel for Ocean Sustainability (IPOS) to build consensus and inform policy

Story highlights

  • A new international ocean panel could find consensus and provide solid science-based policy input
  • It would be transdisciplinary and cross-cutting between already existing scientific panels and processes, such as the IPCC and IPBES
  • The panel should support flexible and dynamic policies, which can adapt as the ocean and the societies that depend on it change

The ocean science community has, so far, not been sufficiently well organized to provide coherent policy input on a global scale. The Intergovernmental panels on climate (IPCC) and biodiversity (IPBES) have, however, demonstrated that it is possible to find consensus and provide a solid scientific foundation for governance of global sustainability issues.

Now, an international team of more than 30 scholars and other experts propose the establishment of an equally impactful global platform on the ocean. They call it the International Panel for Ocean Sustainability (IPOS), and its structure and framing are described in detail in a recent article published in the journal npj Ocean Sustainability.

Transdisciplinary and cross-cutting

“The objective is to accelerate the use of the best available knowledge on the past, present, and future of the ocean,” says centre researcher Robert Blasiak, co-author of the article.

The proposed panel would be transdisciplinary and cross-cutting between already existing scientific panels and processes, such as the IPCC, IPBES and World Ocean Assessment.

The objective is to accelerate the use of the best available knowledge on the past, present, and future of the ocean.

Robert Blasiak, co-author

As a matter of fact, the idea to establish a panel for ocean sustainability is not entirely new. For example, it came up during the 2022 UN Ocean Conference as a recommendation by the EU. The reasoning behind this is of course the vital role the ocean plays for the climate, food security, human health, biodiversity conservation and the global economy.

“Neither climate nor biodiversity threats can be resolved without including ocean solutions,” the authors write.

The potential roles of the IPOS in centralising past, existing and future science and knowledge to support ocean sustainability.

In need of a scientific foundation

Given this importance and that decisions will need to be made quickly and with less certainty, a solid scientific foundation is urgently needed. Consequently, the suggested panel should support flexible and dynamic policies, which can adapt as the ocean and the societies that depend on it change.

“The IPOS has the potential to advance consensus on ocean status, guide policymakers in navigating future trade-offs, and inform the design of adaptive and anticipatory governance responses,” says Robert Blasiak.

Around the world, ocean ecosystems, such as coral reefs and kelp forests, are approaching tipping points that threaten to trigger the collapse of the key climate and life support roles they provide. Now more than ever, the world needs the kind of legitimate, salient, and credible evidence-based policy recommendations an international platform on ocean sustainability could mobilise, the authors conclude.

READ An evolution towards scientific consensus for a sustainable ocean future

Published: 2023-01-19

Related info

Gaill, F., Brodie Rudolph, T., Lebleu, L., Allemand, D., Blasiak, R., Cheung, W. W. L., Claudet, J., Cavaleri Gerhardinger, L., Le Bris, N., Levin, L., Pörtner, H.-O., Visbeck, M., Zivian, A., Bahurel, P., Bopp, L., Bowler, C., Chlous, F., Cury, P., Gascuel, D., Goyet, S., Hilmi, N., Ménard, F., Micheli, F., Mullineaux, L., Parmentier, R., Sicre, M-.A., Speich, S., Thébaud, O., Thiele, T., Bowler, M., Charvis, P., Cuvelier, R., Houllier, F., Palazot, S., Staub, F., Poivre d'Arvor, O. 2023. An evolution towards scientific consensus for a sustainable ocean future. npj Ocean Sustainability.

DOI: 10.1038/s44183-022-00007-1

Link to publication

Share