ICES experts contribute to UN’s Second World Ocean Assessment

The Second World Ocean Assessment, the major output of the second cycle of the United Nation’s Regular Process, is launched today. Experts from our network have contributed to this global effort to provide integrated assessment of the world’s oceans.
Published: 21 April 2021

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The second cycle of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the States of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects (Regular Process) was launched by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2015. While the first cycle focused on establishing a baseline for measuring the state of the marine environment, the second cycle extends to evaluating trends and identifying gaps.

The assessment is a collective effort of interdisciplinary writing teams made up of more than 300 experts, drawn from a pool of over 780 experts from around the world. ICES as a regional science organization played an active role in suggesting experts from our community to the process who then contributed to many assessment chapters, especially on the status and trends of the North Atlantic and adjacent seas. 

Anne Christine Brusendorff, ICES General Secretary explains the importance of the connection between the work and ICES: “As a regional organization with global reach, it is imperative that our science links to other international processes such as the WOA, and it is through our network of experts that these links are facilitated."

Expert impressions

We spoke to some of our experts who were involved and asked about their impressions on participating in such a huge global effort.

Jörn Schmidt, the Chair of ICES Science Committee (SCICOM), nominated by Germany, and Henn Ojaveer, Vice-Chair of ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM), nominated by Estonia, contributed to the process in the Group of Experts (GoE). The 19-person of GoE lead the whole WOA process.

Schmidt explains: “In this role, I had the pleasure to oversee and contribute to the work of a number of chapters and co-lead the writing for the general conclusions."

“It's a very high-level process and as such, the work of the GoE is to represent the science community on the political level of the UN as well as leading and supporting the writing of over 300 experts in the Pool of Experts. It is very rewarding to facilitate the cooperation of experts coming from so many different countries and disciplines" he continues, “And the work  shows the realities of ocean science and the changes in the ocean and its ecosystems in the different regions of the world".

Henn Ojaveer echoes Schmidt: “Having participated in the first cycle, I was already familiar with the process and overall challenges related to the work. However, this was my first time as a member of the Group of Experts with major responsibilities. It was a very educational and motivational activity with several inspiring discussions and debates."

Rewarding epxeriences

Manuel Hidalgo from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) is a member of several ICES expert groups. He was nominated by Spain, and participated in two chapters of the assessment: Chapter 15 'Changes in Capture Fisheries and Harvesting of Wild Marine Invertebrates' as section leading co-author, and Chapter 30 'Developments in management approaches' as contributing co-author.

“The process was quite smooth given the strong commitment of all experts involved. From a personal perspective, it was also a deep learning experience due to the close collaboration with experts with complementary but broad expertise in the two chapters in which I participated", Hidalgo explains.

Wojciech Wawrzynski, Head of Science Support at ICES Secretariat, was nominated by Poland and joined the writing team for Chapter 31: 'Overall benefits from the oceans to humans', and led the sub-chapter 'Regional and global ocean- related treaties,'. He agrees that contributing to the WOA was a rewarding and eye-opening experience: “Putting this together was quite a long but rewarding process. What made the experience special was that science was not constrained by geographical boundaries, and the objective was shared by experts in different scientific disciplines. There is a clear feeling that ocean science diplomacy has real potential to be a game changer in promoting global sustainability and introducing new technologies and regulations."

​“I am glad that this process was influenced from different corners of ICES community and that throughout the endeavour we managed to contribute to coordinated global efforts that have the true potential to build international partnerships that overcome collective societal challenges", Wawrzynski concludes.

Live stream event

​The WOA II launch event is live streamed on 21 April 2021 at 10 a.m., EDT via the UN's website: Launch of the Second World Ocean Assessment (WOA II).​

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ICES experts contribute to UN’s Second World Ocean Assessment

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