Director-General opens 41st Session of the IOC Executive Council

Director-General opens 41st Session of the IOC Executive Council
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 24 June 2008, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, opened the 41st session of the Executive Council of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC).

The Director-General began his intervention by commending the Working Group on the Future of IOC, which met in Paris this past February to identify options for enhancing IOC’s status and role. “I am pleased to note that the Working Group agreed that the future of IOC should unquestionably remain, and be reinforced, within UNESCO. This is something I feel very strongly about, as do UNESCO’s Member States.”

He went on to note that an important consideration for IOC in the future would be how to strengthen the Commission’s role within UNESCO in terms of intersectoral and interdisciplinary cooperation, drawing on IOC’s strong technical expertise in the ocean sciences, ocean services and capacity development.

The Director-General underscored that “multidisciplinarity is indeed one of UNESCO’s great assets in addressing complex scientific and societal issues in the field of the environment, including those related to climate change.” In this regard, he noted that IOC’s work was clearly pivotal to UNESCO’s climate change strategy.

Mr Matsuura recalled that “IOC has contributed significantly to building, and constantly improving, the global knowledge base on climate change, underscoring the key role that oceans play in regulating climate. Here, I should highlight in particular IOC’s support to the World Climate Research Programme and its input to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
He noted that IOC, by coordinating the regular, real-time gathering of ocean data through the Global Ocean Observing System, also performed an essential function under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

The Director-General then focused on the progress that had been made four years after the Indian Ocean tsunami, in establishing tsunami warning systems in all four oceans. He underscored that this was “a remarkable and truly collective achievement” of Member States with IOC’s support.

Mr Matsuura noted that “the Indian Ocean tsunami highlighted again the need for national governments, and their populations, to be aware of and prepared for the threat of natural ocean-related hazards… Recent disasters tragically underscore the need to develop fully functional end-to-end warning systems, which include timely and dedicated measures to enhance communication, awareness and preparedness at all levels in Member States. This is vital in order to save people’s lives and livelihoods in the event of a disaster.” The Director-General then underlined the important work being done by IOC to build capacity in Member States in the field of ocean sciences, notably in Africa, for example through training to develop inundation maps for marine related hazards, in which twelve countries participated, including seven African states bordering the Indian Ocean.

The Director-General also highlighted the work being done by IOC, in cooperation with UNEP and the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), to assist Member States, notably in Africa, in exercising their rights and responsibilities to determine the outer limits of their continental shelf under the Law of the Sea Convention.

Mr Matsuura underscored the importance of securing extra budgetary funding for IOC, and invited Member States to consider their voluntary contributions to IOC through the Additional programme of targeted/projected extrabudgetary activities under which IOC had prepared a number of proposals.

He concluded his intervention by looking forward to hearing the Executive Council’s proposals for activities to celebrate, in Paris and worldwide, the first 50 years of the Commission in 2010.

“This will be an occasion to take stock of the great achievements of the Commission, but also to look forward to the challenges ahead. Today, more than ever, we measure the importance of IOC’s contribution to achieving safe and sustainable development. Let us therefore be bold in our vision for this important anniversary, and together set the stage for another 50 years of scientific excellence and leadership,” he added.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 083-2008
  • 26-06-2008
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