Future Earth Oceans

Image: Arne Sturm

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The oceans form a globally connected ecosystem and highly dynamic environment of physical, chemical, and biological interaction. They maintain a great diversity of life, exchange mass and heat with the atmosphere, and modulate our climate. Oceans, including coastal and nearshore areas, thus provide services essential for life on earth and to the history, culture and livelihoods of people across the globe. However, oceans are also facing multiple challenges from climate change, overfishing, acidification, de-oxygenation and pollution. Accordingly, the United Nations referred to the importance of healthy oceans in several of their Sustainable Development Goals.

The Future Earth Oceans Knowledge-Action Network seeks to address these challenges through solutions-oriented research and by engaging with stakeholders from diverse sectors and regions and by drawing on the strong fundamental research and innovative agendas of the international marine projects and communities in Future Earth and beyond.

Generating the knowledge that decision-makers need to preserve and enhance the health and value of the oceans will require defining the problems facing the oceans and their interfaces with the adjacent land and overlying atmosphere, understanding associated mechanisms, impacts, and consequences, and directing research towards their solutions. High-level key questions thus include:

  • How do human activities, combined with natural variability, affect the health of oceans and coasts and their environmental and socio-economic services?
  • How can detrimental effects on ocean health be avoided?
  • How can ocean health and services to people be preserved or restored?

Engagement of a broad range of researchers and societal partners is central to the work of the Oceans Network. As such, Future Earth will facilitate transdisciplinary research that can be used by policy-makers, businesses and communities to achieve sustainable interactions of humans with the oceans at large. We will also work to build scientific capacity to empower researchers and societal partners worldwide to assess the state of the oceanic and coastal domains and improve their management and governance.

The first steps in developing the Oceans Knowledge-Action Network will be to connect to key players related to ocean sustainability from academic and stakeholder communities, to define the key issues where sustainability research can help support healthy oceans and coastal regions. Agreed societally pressing issues with associated researchable questions will then be prioritised for globally coordinated interdisciplinary research towards co-designed synthesis and knowledge products.

Contact: oceans@futureearth.org