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ONC and the UN Ocean Decade
ONC is advancing projects in pursuit of healthier oceans, science that promotes ocean resilience, and a citizenry engaged with the oceans’ role in supporting life on this planet.
September 6, 2022

Ocean Networks Canada has answered the call by the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to develop “the science we need for the ocean we want” by spearheading and supporting a range of initiatives in collaboration with domestic and international partners.

The Government of Canada has made a series of funding commitments to encourage engagement in the Ocean Decade, aligned with Canada’s plans to advance its Blue Economy Strategy.

ONC is co-leading or supporting three of the eight Canada-led UN Ocean Decade Projects (endorsed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission) that were announced by Minister of Fisheries Joyce Murray on World Oceans Day 2022.

Explore these projects, and other UN Ocean Decade programs that ONC is supporting, that will enhance the societal impact of the research that ONC staff and infrastructure support.

Project 1. Advancing Indigenous Partnerships in Ocean Science for Sustainability

Imagine an investment-ready roadmap for advancing Indigenous-led ocean science research capacity and participation in a sustainable blue economy.

That is the vision behind Advancing Indigenous Partnerships, which aims to pave the way for Indigenous-led ocean and climate change research, and expand the role of coastal Indigenous peoples in ocean governance and stewardship. In alignment with the Ocean Decade prioritization of partnerships and capacity building, the project aims to achieve equitable, sustainable, and inclusive ocean economy sectors within Canada, and better connect Indigenous researchers with international networks.

The project is led by Ken Paul of the Wolastoqey Nation in partnership with ONC and the Ocean Frontiers Institute at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, and funded by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Ken Paul, project lead and Lead Fisheries Negotiator and Fisheries Research Coordinator, Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick

“ONC is continuing to extend beyond its core activities of operating cabled observatories and collecting data and even taking steps to go beyond knowledge fusion with our Indigenous partners,” says ONC chief scientist Kim Juniper. “A lot of coastal Indigenous communities are seeking more autonomy in ocean planning and decision-making in their traditional territories and more capacity to manage fisheries.”

Capacity building is essential to the success of the project and that means First Nations need funding for vessels, infrastructure and training, says Ken Paul.

“We don’t want to have just another workshop where everyone lists their challenges, they’ve done that,” says Paul. “We aren’t just going to study, this, we are bringing in the ocean industry to make business connections.”

The project will bring together Indigenous leaders and potential investment partners from industry, academia, foundations, and non-governmental organizations in a series of regional and national meetings in 2022 and 2023.

Project 2. #OceanDecade Challenge

Ever wondered if underwater noise impacts marine life? Or how climate change affects weather prediction?

The #OceanDecade Challenge, created by ONC in partnership with Girl Guides of Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is designed to encourage young people to engage in the UN Ocean Decade through participation in fun, ocean-science activities. The project aims to raise awareness of the crucial role that Canada’s three coasts (the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic) play in Canadians’ lives, contributing food, transportation, jobs, identity and culture.

Thousands of kids across Canada, coastal and inland, have participated in the #OceanDecade Challenge since its launch in March 2022, and received a challenge crest by completing activities under each of the UN’s seven ocean outcomes; a clean, healthy, productive, predicted, safe, accessible and inspiring ocean.

ONC contributions to the Ocean Decade Challenge include:

a) Creating bilingual learning activities and materials for kids aged 7-12
b) Making activities and material public via ONC hosted interactive website
c) Mailing out free crests for challenge completion
d) Holding community youth participation events

"The #OceanDecade Challenge encourages participants to discover how data, science and our choices contribute to the health of our ocean. We want youth to have fun, learn about the ocean and feel empowered throughout the activity,” says Maia Hoeberechts, ONC’s associate director of learning and community engagement.

Project 3. The Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition

Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world, but less than 20 per cent (approximately 7 million) of Canadians live within 100 kilometres of the coast. Nonetheless, no matter your location, you are connected to the ocean, says Diz Glithero, National Lead, Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition (COLC), whose administrative home is at ONC.

“Everyone is connected to the ocean through their local waterways, as they all eventually make their way to the ocean,” said Glithero. “Understanding that freshwater connection, as well as our day-to-day linkages through food, transportation, and climate, helps us to make informed decisions to ensure a healthy ocean future.”

Ocean Literacy: Our relationship with the ocean. Credit: COLC

One of COLC’s priorities during the UN Ocean Decade is to advance ocean literacy by implementing the Land, Water, Ocean, Us: A Canadian Ocean Literacy Strategy. This national strategy, launched by COLC in 2021, identifies ocean education as one of its nine action streams to nurture Canadians’ ocean connection and empower action.

“Integrating more environmental sustainability, Indigenous ways of knowing, and ocean-climate education in school curricula and teacher education is essential," said Glithero.

"Sustained government commitments to advancing marine conservation and achieving 30 per cent protection by 2030 are important, as is responsible industry investment and blue economy innovation. Education, however, is no less foundational to this societal change.”

For instance, the Coalition’s Blue Schools Canada initiative helps teachers and students engage in projects that raise awareness about ocean-climate issues and inspire local action to restore and ensure a healthy ocean for future generations.

The COLC, of which ONC is a founding partner, serves as the national lead to promote, coordinate, and advance ocean literacy practice and research in Canada, and globally through the UN Decade endorsed programme, Ocean Literacy With All.

ONC’s Ocean Decade International Partnerships

ONC is also partnering with seven international programmes (Table 1) that have been endorsed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission as contributions to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Programme Lead Organization ONC Lead(s)
DOOS - Deep Ocean Observing Strategy Scripps (Lisa Levin) Fabio De Leo, Senior Scientist; Kim Juniper, Chief Scientist
DITTO - Digital Twin Ocean GEOMAR (Martin Visbeck) Kim Juniper, Chief Scientist; Meghan Paulson, Director of Digital Operations
GEOS - Global Ecosystem for Ocean Solutions Consortium (Emanuele Di Lorenzo) Kim Juniper, Chief Scientist; Kate Moran, CEO
OBON - Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network POGO (Margaret Leinen, Scripps) Kim Juniper, Chief Scientist; Fabio De Leo, Senior Scientist
Marine Life 2030 Smithsonian (Emmet Duffy) Fabio De Leo, Senior Scientist; Kim Juniper, Chief Scientist
OneDeep - One Ocean Network for Deep Ocean Observing Ifremer (François Houllier) Fabio De Leo, Senior Scientist; Kim Juniper, Chief Scientist; Steve Mihaly, Senior Scientist
Ocean Practices for the Decade International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (Peter Pissierssens) Reyna Jenkyns, Manager of Data Stewardship; Maia Hoeberechts, Associate Director of Learning & Community Engagement

Table 1. Endorsed UN Ocean Decade programmes involving Ocean Networks Canada

Through these IOC-endorsed programs and projects, Ocean Networks Canada is proud to support the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

Top image: The Ocean, Freshwater, and Us giant floor map (8m x 11m) was developed by the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition (COLC), Canadian Geographic, and a design team of partners, as a learning and engagement tool during the annual Ocean Week Canada celebrations and at major national and international conferences throughout the UN Ocean Decade (2021-2030). With COLC's administrative office hosted at ONC's University of Victoria Queenswood campus, ONC is a founding and active member of COLC's UN Decade endorsed project, Advancing Ocean Literacy in Canada.

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