UN Ocean Decade International Website

The United Nations Decade of Oceans is an international call for joint research projects, actions and information campaigns with the goal of creating a healthy and sustainably managed ocean by 2030. To move from the current state (the ocean we have) to the desired state (the ocean we want), there is an internationally agreed hierarchy of goals (objectives) and aligned tasks (challenges). At the start of the Ocean Decade 2021, an Implementation plan was developed that describes the organizational structures and operations of the global UN Ocean Decade, in addition to its goals and challenges.

Ocean Decade Goals

The UN Decade of Oceans aims to achieve a sustainable future in the management of the ocean. Transformative solutions for the protection and sustainable use of the ocean are to be developed across disciplines and countries. International coordination was used to work out how the international community would like to see the ocean by 2030.

1. Clean Ocean

Human activities generate a lot of pollutants from a variety of land- and sea-based sources. The resulting pollution threatens the ocean, its ecosystems, human health, and prevents sustainable use of the ocean. This threatens the livelihoods of many people around the world. It is of great importance to fill knowledge gaps and generate interdisciplinary knowledge about the causes and sources of pollution and its effects on ecosystems and human health.

2. Healthy and Resilient Ocean

The degradation of marine ecosystems is accelerating due to unsustainable activities on land and in the sea. To sustainably manage, protect, or restore marine and coastal ecosystems, ecosystems, and in particular their responses to various stressors, must be better understood. In a healthy and resilient ocean, ecosystems function and provide ecosystem services for the health and well-being of society and the planet as a whole.

3. Productive Ocean

The ocean is a foundation for global economic development in the future. In this regard, it is critical to develop and apply tools to restore wild fish stocks, apply sustainable fisheries management practices, and sustainably expand aquaculture while preserving biodiversity and ecosystems. The ocean also provides important resources for a wide range of established and emerging industries, including resource extraction, energy production, tourism, transportation, and pharmaceuticals. Governments need information to promote and manage a sustainable maritime economy.

4. Predictable Ocean

The ocean is not adequately surveyed, nor are there sufficient observing systems. As a result, it is not yet fully understood. Research and understanding of the key elements of the ocean, including its physical, chemical, and biological components, as well as interactions with the atmosphere and cryosphere, are essential, especially in a changing climate. More accurate predictions of the state of the ocean are fundamental to dynamic and adaptive ocean management.

5. Safe Ocean

Meteorological, geophysical, biological and man-made hazards threaten coastal communities, ocean users, ecosystems and economies. To prepare for and respond to these threats, a variety of data is needed. These range from near real-time to long time series and need to be translated into effective information and education to empower policy makers and the general public in decision making.

6. Accessible Ocean

Marine science capacity is still unevenly distributed. In order to improve data collection, knowledge generation, and technological developments, especially in emerging and developing countries and small island states, marine science capacity and capabilities need to be improved there. All disciplines of science, governments, educators, business and industry, and the public need better access to relevant knowledge. This will improve management, innovation, and decision-making capabilities and contribute to the societal goals of sustainable development.

7. Inspiring Ocean

To promote sustainable behavior and ensure the effectiveness of the solutions developed over the past Decade, society's relationship with the ocean must be gradually changed. This can be done, for example, through education and awareness-raising, but it can also be achieved by creating physical access to the ocean. These approaches can improve understanding of the economic, social, and cultural values of the ocean. The ocean should be perceived as a place of wonder and inspiration.

Turtle on the Great Barrier Reed. Photo: Turtle on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia Credit: Jordan Robins / Ocean Image Bank

Challenges of the Ocean Decade

Based on the seven goals of the Ocean Decade, ten challenges were identified as areas of work that need to be addressed globally. These challenges can only be successfully met if all parts of society work together on science-based solutions.

Implementation of the Ocean Decade

In the Implementation plan of the Ocean Decade, the United Nations has defined different formats to enable the goals of the Ocean Decade to be achieved at different levels. A distinction is made between Actions (Programs and Projects), Activities and Contributions. 

Actions, i.e. programs and projects (programs and projects), are large-scale initiatives carried out at the global or regional level to help address one or more of the challenges of the Ocean Decade. They are long-term, multi-year, and usually interdisciplinary and multinational. They should consist of subprojects, which may be fully or partially defined at the time of grant. Projects are targeted undertakings. They can be regional, national or sub-national and usually contribute to a specific program of the Ocean Decade. Once adopted, programs and projects receive guidance on how to use the logo. Programs and projects will be announced every six months throughout the Decade through calls for Decade Actions. The 6th call for actions is currently underway: Decade Actions No. 06/2023

Activities are one-off events, webinars, conferences, workshops, publications and occasionally creative outputs such as poster competitions. They usually last between 1 and 28 days and last a maximum of one year. Here you can register your activity as part of the UN Ocean Decade and apply to use the Ocean Decade logo for it. Accepted events will be listed in the Forum of the Ocean Decade published.

Contributions are accepted on an ongoing basis and at any time. Contributions are in-kind or financial contributions to the coordination functions of the Decade (Decade Collaborative Centers or Decade Implementing Partners) or to specific Decade actions. Concrete contributions should be discussed with the international Decade Office at Once the contribution is accepted, the logo may be used by the contributors.

You can find more information on the international website of the UN Decade of Oceans.

More Information

Documents from the international context as PDF downloads

History of the UN Ocean Decade

The UN Ocean Decade, which runs as an international framework program from 2021 to 2030, is the result of a lengthy preparatory process. We have summarized the important stages of this process here.

Implementation plan

The Implementation plan of the Ocean Decade was published in 2021. It describes the goals, implementation, organizational structures and working methods of the global UN Ocean Decade.

Sustainable Development Goal # 14: Life Below Water

Preserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development is anchored in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as "SDG 14: Life below water." The fact sheet summarizes background information and possible solutions.