UNESCO: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization


Comisión oceanográfica intergubernamental

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission celebrates its 50th anniversary in a context dominated by climate change

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission celebrates its 50th anniversary in a context dominated by climate change
  • © UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) has chosen 8 June, Word Oceans Day, to kick off celebrations for its fiftieth anniversary. It is an opportunity for this UNESCO programme to take stock of its work in improving our understanding of the seas and oceans and the central role they play in regulating climate.

The IOC, set up in 1960, now has 138 Member States. In a message for the 50th anniversary, UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, points out that “IOC, in partnership with other UN agencies and hundreds of associated oceanographic and marine research laboratories, is playing a vital role in addressing some of the major challenges facing the world.” These challenges include identifying and protecting marine biodiversity, monitoring global climate change and coordinating tsunami warning systems. “Never has the IOC been so necessary as today,” she says.

The official commemoration of World Oceans Day, held in the presence of Irina Bokova, the French Secretary of State for Sustainable Development Valérie Létard, and French navigator Maud Fontenoy, is also an opportunity to send “A Message to the Peoples and Nations of the World On Behalf of the Ocean”.

This Message reminds us that “…the wastes of our society, flowing from the land, and through the atmosphere, from agriculture, industry and a growing urban population can be seen in the fragile coastal waters and measured even in the centre of the water masses.” The message emphasizes that, as a result, “we must collectively and unambiguously acknowledge the importance of the oceans to our existence on the planet. The ocean cleanses the air we breathe; it influences our weather, climate, and the water on which we depend.”

This Message is accompanied by an “Ocean Call”, which appeals for increased priority to be given to programmes in coastal and ocean management, ocean sciences and ocean technologies.


As well as coinciding with the opening of the 43rd meeting of the IOC Executive Council (8-16 June) at the Organization’s headquarters in Paris, World Oceans Day is also an opportunity for Equipe Cousteau to launch its centenary celebrations of the birth of the late Commander Cousteau, in 1910, with a special event (4 p.m., room IX). A live hook-up is also planned with Pierre-Yves Cousteau on bord the Alcyone, currently sailing in the Mediterranean as part of an expedition with National Geographic.

The celebrations on 8 June are also an opportunity to showcase the history of the IOC, with the inauguration of an exhibition at UNESCO headquarters and the launch of a new book, Troubled Waters: ocean science and governance, by Geoff Holland and David Pugh (Cambridge University Press) published as part of the IOC 50th anniversary.


Related links:
::  Photos "Opening Ceremony" (8 June 2010)

  • 08-06-2010
  • © UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo - 
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