Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC/UNESCO) was established by resolution 2.31 adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO. It first met in Paris at Unesco Headquarters from 19 to 27 October 1961. Initially, 40 States became members of the commission. The IOC assists governments to address their individual and collective ocean and coastal management needs, through the sharing of knowledge, information and technology as well as through the co-ordination of programs and building capacity in ocean and coastal research, observations and services.

The IOC is the only UN body specialized in ocean science and services. It provides a focus for other UN organizations and agencies with regard to ocean science, observations and data exchange, and services such as global tsunami warning systems. Established in 1960, the Commission celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010 and currently has 147 Member States. Since the IOC often has its own accreditation within meetings such as those of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), this gives UNESCO two seats and two voices at the table.

The IOC has been a key player in the recent international debate on sustainable development as it relates to the ocean. The Rio+20 outcome document affirmed the importance of “the ocean and coasts” to the sustainability debate, and is the basis for IOC's ongoing support to the creation of the Sustainable Development Goal 14 dedicated to the ocean. The IOC is closely involved in several international partnerships for ocean sustainability such as with the CBD, UN-Oceans and the World Ocean Assessment.

The IOC/UNESCO is composed of its Member States (147 in 2014), an Assembly, an Executive Council and a Secretariat. The Secretariat is based in Paris, France. Additionally the IOC has a number of Subsidiary Bodies: three regional sub-commissions (IOCARIBE, IOCAFRICA, and WESTPAC), and programme and project offices in Apia (Samoa), Bangkok (Thailand), Cartagena (Colombia), Copenhagen (Denmark), Jakarta (Indonesia), Kingston (Jamaica), Nairobi (Kenya), Muscat (Oman), Perth (Australia), and Port-au-Prince (Haiti). The JCOMM in situ Observations Programme Support Centre, currently hosted in Toulouse (France), is in the process of moving to Brest (France). Additionally, IOC has a strong presence in Oostende (Belgium), where the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) and the Secretariat for the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) are based. Under IOC mandate, the IODE coordinates since 1961 the exchange of information and data between the IOC Member States and its national oceanographic data centers. As for OBIS, it was established by the Census of Marine Life program (, and developed between 2000 and 2010 as an evolving strategic alliance of people and organizations sharing a vision to make marine biogeographic data, from all over the world, freely available over the World Wide Web. Any organization, consortium, project or individual may contribute data to OBIS. Provided by Wikipedia
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