UW Ocean Voices program, seeking equity in ocean science, gets key approval from United Nations

Peter Kelley

Ocean Voices, a program of the University of Washington-based Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center to advance equity in ocean science, has been named among the first group of actions taken in a United Nations-sponsored, decade-long program of ocean science for sustainable development.

UW Ocean Voices program, seeking equity in ocean science, gets key approval from United Nations

Yoshitaka Ota

“The human relationship with oceans under current political economies is unsustainable, unstable and inequitable,” writes Yoshitaka Ota, director of the center.

“We need to create a new platform for ocean governance to recognize injustices, embrace diverse knowledge systems and actually embody these values to make oceans equitable for everyone.”

About ‘Ocean Voices’:

Lead institutions: Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center, EarthLab

“The contribution of ocean science to sustainable development is determined by people. Understanding the actors involved, their culture and well-being, and how power dynamics and decision-making processes influence our oceans is crucial to achieve the goals of the Decade and ensure knowledge, strategy and governance frameworks enable all to participate in, contribute to and benefit equitably from the Decade.

The Ocean Voices program will conduct research, incubate ideas, facilitate critical discussions and convene capacity building partnerships to identify barriers and pathways and enabling conditions for equity in the Decade.”

And that is the goal of the Ocean Nexus Center, a 10-year collaboration between the Nippon Foundation, a global leader addressing challenges facing the world’s oceans, and EarthLab, the UW’s multidisciplinary institute that researches key environmental challenges.

The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 — called the Ocean Decade, or just the Decade — is an international initiative toward achieving the environmental standards set in the United Nations 2030 agenda. These include “improving equity in the design, conduct and utilization of ocean science.”

Ocean Voices is a program of the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center dedicated to advancing equity in Ocean Decade activities by identifying barriers to and enabling conditions for fairness and justice in ocean science “so that no one is left behind through the Decade.”

Now, the Ocean Voices program has been officially endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, as one of its first 28 “Decade Actions” — or programs to be undertaken in the next 10 years to help “create the ocean we want” by 2030.

Ota, who is a research assistant professor in the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs as well as director of the Ocean Nexus Center, praised the Decade Actions designation for Ocean Voices.

“This program will advance equity in the Decade through interdisciplinary research and partnerships that will examine how ocean science can support a more equitable and sustainable world, and how to prevent the science from being used, misused or ignored.”

Read more on the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center’s website.


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