29 Sep 2023
by Amy McLellan

Your ocean needs you

The ocean needs our help now more than ever. The Ocean Decade Conference 2024 will bring together people from all walks of life to tackle the grave issues it faces and reverse declines in ocean health.

Given recent alarm about off-the-chart ocean temperatures and Antarctic sea-ice shrinking to “mind-blowing” lows, the UN Ocean Decade could not be more needed.  With its tagline of “the science we need for the ocean we want”, the Ocean Decade 2021-2030 aims to bring together scientists, policymakers and other stakeholders to stimulate scientific endeavour and knowledge generation to reverse declines in ocean health and create new opportunities for sustainable development.

Everyone is a stakeholder when it comes to the ocean, says Professor Stephen de Mora, Emeritus Fellow of Plymouth Marine Laboratory and IMarEST Fellow. “It’s going to require more than science to come up with solutions,” he says. “Engineering and technology will also be needed as well as history, social science, culture. Our oceans face big problems that impact all of society, not just coastal states, and that means we all have to be involved so we can do things in a joined-up way better than we ever have before.”

The upcoming Ocean Decade Conference 2024 in Barcelona will be an important staging post on this journey, designed to embody and embolden efforts to make ocean health a truly inclusive global effort.

“There’s a real drive to be inclusive around gender, geography, age,” says Professor de Mora, who says he is particularly keen to understand the role of indigenous peoples and their understanding of the oceans.

He hopes IMarEST members will attend this flagship ocean event, which will be held from 10-12 April at the Barcelona International Convention Centre. The event will attract heads of state, leaders of UN agencies and leading industry figures. There will also be four thematic sessions to showcase science solutions that could contribute to sustainable development, and Professor de Mora is keen that IMarEST’s Special Interest Groups play their part in discussions and problem-solving.

“As one of the only organisations that covers both maritime and marine, and creates a valuable interface between academia and industry, IMarEST is well-placed to make a meaningful impact to the vision of Ocean Decade,” says Professor de Mora. “The Special Interest Groups, which range from plastics to the wellbeing of seafarers and pull together world-leading experts, show the breadth and depth of expertise we have to contribute.”

He said recent alarm at extreme weather events means the oceans are now in the public consciousness in a way that they weren’t before. “There’s been an awakening in the general public about the urgency of the issue,” he says.

There is no registration fee to participate in the conference, although a modest donation to a travel fund to support selected participants from small island developing states, least-developed countries and early-career ocean professionals is requested. IMarEST members who wish to take part have until 30 October to sign up and can pre-register here. 


Be part of something big: UN Ocean Decade

The UN Ocean Decade Conference is being held in Barcelona, Spain from 10-12 April 2024.

IMarEST members who wish to take part have until 30 October to pre-register here. Full registration will take place from 1 November 2023

Let’s make an impact!