Arctic Ocean Decade Policy-Business-Science-Dialogue

29 January 2020, Tromsø, Norway

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030
presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver scientific knowledge and ensure that ocean science can fully support countries’ actions to sustainably manage the ocean and to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As part of a global consultation process in preparation of the UN Decade, two Arctic workshops will provide opportunities to further discuss, prioritize and formulate proposals for Arctic initiatives to be framed under the UN Decade:

Arctic Ocean Decade Workshops:
reparing for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)

  • Arctic Ocean Decade Policy-Business-Science-Dialogue 
    29 January 2020
    Tromsø, Norway, organized by the Research Council of Norway and Arctic Frontiers
  • Regional Arctic Ocean Decade Planning Workshop
    29 April-1 May 2020
    Copenhagen, Denmark, organized by the Danish Centre for Marine Research

Combined the two workshops will provide output aligned with the five regional planning workshops defined as part of the consultation phase of the Ocean Decade. The workshops will address the six societal objectives of the Decade:

  • A clean ocean
  • A healthy and resilient ocean
  • A predicted ocean
  • A safe ocean
  • A sustainably harvested and productive ocean
  • A transparent and accessible ocean    

Arctic temperatures are rising and effects like reduced sea ice thickness and coverage are already apparent. The Arctic Ocean could be largely free of summer ice in the 2030s. Marine species are moving northwards, with consequences for subsistence hunting and commercial fisheries. In addition, the Arctic Ocean opens for increased commercial activities. The Arctic Ocean transition may be affecting global weather systems and the global economy. Combined this call for a special regional focus as part of the Decade.   

The Arctic Ocean Decade Policy-Business-Science-Dialogue will provide a forum to gather Arctic leaders and key stakeholders such as scientists, industry, NGOs, policy-makers and foundations. The aim is to identify key ocean policy and sustainable development actions. 

The Arctic Ocean Decade Policy-Business-Science-Dialogue offers a crucial opportunity to inform the co-design mission-oriented research strategies in line with the 2030 Agenda focusing on needs and priorities in terms of transforming knowledge systems; accelerating transfer of technology; enabling training and education; and fostering science-policy dialogues special for the Arctic region.

It is vital to identify how business, policy and science can work together on Arctic issues, focusing on:

  • Identifying knowledge gaps and Arctic ocean science priorities for the 2030 Agenda;
  • Defining possible common regional ocean policy priorities;
  • Leveraging existing Arctic partnerships/networks/initiatives and identifying those lacking;
  • Involving local and indigenous communities and knowledge, and contributing to further development of regional ocean literacy;
  • Selecting priority themes and topics to be addressed by the Decade from a sustainable development perspective.

Outcomes of the dialogue in Tromsø will inform the second workshop and feed into the Decade planning process.

Call for expression of interest to participate

We invite all interested participants to fill in and submit the information below to enable the selection of participation for the Arctic Ocean Decade Policy-Business-Science-Dialogue in order to maintain the representativeness of areas and sectors, regional equilibrium between countries and gender balance.

Selected participants will be notified directly via email.


Wednesday January 29th 2020 at 09:00 to 16:15
Wednesday January 15th 2020 at 23:00

Activity is finished and you can no longer register.


  • 08.15

    Registration and coffee

  • 09.00

    Welcome to the workshop

    Welcome Statements and Opening Remarks

    • Fridtjof Unander, Executive Director of the Division of Oceans, Energy and Sustainability, The Research Council of Norway
    • Ole Øvretveit, Director of Arctic Frontiers
    • Ivet Petkova, Arctic Frontiers Young 
    • Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean (video)

    Moderator: Christina Abildgaard, Director of Department for Ocean and Polar Research, the Research Council of Norway

  • 09.30

    Introduction to UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

    By Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO

  • Introduction to group work

  • 09.45

    Topic 1: A Clean, healthy and resilient Arctic ocean

    Keynote talk by Anne Christine Brusendorff, General Secretary, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)

  • 10.00

    Topic 2: A predicted ocean

    Keynote talk by Heidar Gudjonsson, Chair, Arctic Economic Council

  • 10.15

    Break Out Groups: Topic 1

    Addressing the Decades Societal Outcome A clean ocean and A healthy and resilient ocean

  • 11.30

    Break Out Groups: Topic 2

    Addressing the Decades Societal Outcome A predictable ocean

  • 13.00


  • 13.45

    Topic 3: A sustainably harvested and productive ocean

    Keynote talk by Senior Fellow David Balton, the Woodrow Wilson Center's Polar Institute


  • 14.00

    Break Out Groups: Topic 3

    Addressing the Decades Societal Outcome A sustainably harvested and productive ocean

  • 15.30-16.15

    Summing up and way forward

    Summing up the group discussions:

    • Marianne Kroglund, Norwegian Environment Agency
    • Colin Moffat, Scottish Government
    • Tore Furevik, Bjerknes Centre of Climate Research
    • Elizabeth McLanahan, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    • Jose Moutinho, Atlantic International Research Centre in Portugal

    Way forward

    • Colin Stedmon, Technical university of Denmark / Danish Centre for Marine Research
    • Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO

  • 18.15-19.15

    Bringing the Arctic Ocean into United Nations Decade of Ocean Science

    Arctic Frontiers Side Event at Clarion Hotel the Edge, room: Arbeidskontoret 1

    The side event offers a continued dialogue based on results from the Arctic Ocean Decade workshop.

    Introduction to UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development,
    by Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO

    Panel discussion with:

    • Anne Christine Brusendorff, General Secretary, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)

    • Colin Moffat, Chief Scientific Advisor Marine, Scottish Government

    • Hanna Kauko, Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS)

    • Paul Berkman, Professor, Tufts University

    Moderator: Peter Haugan, Programme Director at Institute of Marine Research, Co-Chair of the Expert Group of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy and past president of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

Preparing for the Workshop

Please reflect on the following:

  • What makes the Arctic Ocean special? Concentrate on what is unique for the area.
    Where are we in 2030? What have we achieved? How did get there?

Please be prepared to give input to these issues at the meeting:

  • Identify three main obstacles we will meet to reach the goals for 2030 (where we are 2030) related to each of the four societal outcomes we concentrate on in this meeting (A clean ocean, A health and resilient ocean, A predicted ocean, A sustainably harvested and productive ocean).

Some key words to consider:

  • Knowledge gaps and key research priorities
  • Interaction between scientists, policy makers and business
  • Requirement for an overall management of the Arctic Ocean?
  • Possibilities in the Arctic Ocean
  • Capacity-development/training
  • New partnerships/networks/initiatives in addition to those we have?

The results from the break-out groups will be fed into the Regional Arctic Ocean Decade Planning Workshop and to Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).

The UN Decades Six Societal Outcomes

The Decade will aim to achieve considerable progress in a number of research and technology development areas with a view of generating the following six societal outcomes and some crosscutting themes:

A clean ocean

whereby sources of pollution are identified, quantified and reduced and pollutants removed from the ocean

Our rapidly growing, affluent, and more technologically advanced society is increasingly impacting its local and, subsequently, the global environment, leading to pollution by both chemical and physical wastes. Through the Decade, integrated research will be fostered to assess the human and environmental risks of ongoing and future types of ocean pollution, to generate new ideas to reduce the ocean pressures by promoting recycling, improved waste management and related incentives, and by strengthening the governance regimes to encourage more sustainable production and consumption. The most challenging ocean pollutants include: atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is the main cause of the climate change with ocean warming, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise; agricultural fertilizers, which lead to increased primary production but result in ocean deoxygenation; untreated waste water; invasive species; and micro- and macro-plastics.

A healthy and resilient ocean

whereby marine ecosystems are mapped and protected, multiple impacts, including climate change, are measured and reduced, and provision of ocean ecosystem services is maintained

Marine ecosystem degradation has greatly accelerated during the last five decades due to the multitude of stressors affecting the ocean. To support the conservation and protection of ocean ecosystems, the Decade will promote inter-disciplinary research aimed at elucidating impacts of cumulative stressors on the ocean, its seas, ecosystems and resources, hence providing more complete information to fill gaps, and specify actions, which can improve the situation and reverse the degradation. Improved appreciation of the economic and societal value of ocean ecosystems will also be key to stimulate the development of marine spatial planning, marine protected areas, and other ecosystem-based management approaches. Supplementing and completing the science base with holistic mapping of the ocean, in all its dimensions, will also be needed for adaptive management approach towards good ocean stewardship. All nations will benefit in a healthy and resilient ocean and by preserving its capacity to deliver food, income, support transportation and

A predicted ocean

whereby society has the capacity to understand current and future ocean conditions, forecast their change and impact on human wellbeing and livelihoods

The vast volume of the ocean and its complex coastlines are neither adequately observed nor fully understood. In particular, the deep sea is a frontier of ocean sciences. Under the Decade, sustained and systematic ocean observations can be expanded to all ocean basins and depths to document ocean change, initialize ocean system models and provide critical information for improved ocean understanding. Such information is increasingly needed by nations and the ocean business community operating within or beyond national jurisdictions. Improved access to understanding ocean present and future conditions will be a pre-requisite to the development of sustainable ocean economic policies and ecosystem-based management and will lead to more efficient shipping, mitigate storm damage and flooding of coastal cities, sustain healthy fisheries, protect coral reefs and other key marine ecosystems from degradation, and improve climate forecasting, amongst a few. The Decade will also build on advances in ocean robotics and the combination of remote and in situ ocean observations which offer new opportunities and will reduce operational costs; it will also promote free and open data sharing and multi-stakeholder contributions by governments (rich and poor), the private sector and citizens.

A sustainably harvested and productive ocean

ensuring the provision of food supply and alternative livelihoods 

Society now depends on the ocean more than at any time before. It is a vital source of nourishment, supporting directly the livelihood of about 500 million people, especially in the poorest nations, and, indirectly, the global population. Ocean economies are among the most rapidly growing and promising in the world, providing benefits to many sectors of great economic value, such as fisheries, biotechnologies, energy production, tourism and transport, and many others. The Decade should create a better understanding of the interactions and interdependencies of the environmental conditions and processes, the use of resources and the economy. A major task in context of the development of the ocean economy will be in documenting the potential impacts from environmental changes on the established and emerging maritime industries and their ability to generate growth, especially for LDCs and SIDS. Defining safe and sustainable thresholds for economic operations in the ocean will help policy-makers and stakeholders in implementing a truly sustainable blue economy. New research should develop and flesh out sustainable blue-green growth agendas and link it to efforts in ecosystem protection. 

A safe ocean

whereby human communities are protected from ocean hazards and where the safety of operations at sea and on the coast is ensured

Ocean hazards such as storm surges, tsunamis, harmful algal blooms, or coastline erosion can be devastating for coastal communities. The rush for coastal recreation and economic expansion in the maritime domain has increased access to the sea to a multitude of users, producing newly built infrastructures that are increasingly vulnerable to ocean extreme events. Climate change impacts on the ocean will have profound implications for all human societies and most of our activities. The Decade will promote research aimed at reducing and minimizing impacts of various changes (risk reduction) through adaptation and mitigation, at assessing social and physical vulnerability and help clarify interactions between natural and man-induced changes. It will also support the development of integrated multi-hazard warning systems in all basins hence contributing to enhanced preparedness and awareness of society with regards to ocean risks. This could trigger the introduction and use of new technologies through private-public partnerships. Community resilience and adaptive capacity, with elevated education and awareness as regards the use of observations and data, will also contribute to reduced impacts and improved efficiency of early warning systems for natural and man-made hazards.

A transparent and accessible ocean

whereby all nations, stakeholders and citizens have access to ocean data and information, technologies and have the capacities to inform their decisions

The achievement of the above outcomes very much depends on global capacity building and resource-sharing between countries at different levels of wealth and development. The enormous need for more ocean information at the scientific, governmental, private sector, and public levels demands a step-change in ocean education at all levels. New technology, and the digital revolution are transforming the ocean sciences; these will be harnessed to deliver data and information to all stakeholders. Science-policy interface for oceans should be enhanced as well. Open access to ocean information, increased interactions between the academic and societal actor communities, and ocean literacy for all should capacitate all citizens and stakeholders to have a more responsible and informed behaviour towards the ocean and its resources. Innovative capacity development schemes between south–south and north–south ocean actors as well as courses for ocean professionals will be key in raising ocean awareness and promote better solutions. 

Cross-Cutting Actions

  • Capacity building and technology transfer
  • Partnerships and Financing
  • Access to data, information and knowledge
  • Awareness raising and inclusivity
  • Communicating the Decade

Read more about the Decade

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development web page

Revised Roadmap for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

Summary Report of the First Global Planning Meeting: UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Copenhagen, 13-15 May 2019)