The 26th IOC Assembly, the biennial meeting of the governing body of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, took place in Paris from 22 June to 5 July 2011. The Assembly adopted twelve new Resolutions that provide guidance for IOC planning and the upcoming intersessional work of the Commission. In addition to the statutory programme and budget resolution to set the financial framework for the work of the Commission, many transformative resolutions were adopted at the 26th Assembly.
Among other issues, the Assembly encouraged the work of IOC/CARIBE to continue. The working group on the IOC/ABE-LOS review was directed to continue, in order to increase the number of responses to the IOC/ABE-LOS questionnaire.
IOC Member States adopted a Regional Strategy for Organizational Improvement of the IOC Regional Subsidiary Bodies, given the importance of IOC’s Regional Subsidiary Bodies and IOC Decentralized Offices as mechanisms for the implementation of the Commission’s activities in the regions. The strategy is based on the Secretariat support and the Member States in-kind support for implement regional activities.
Member States also approved a statement for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to highlight the importance of the ocean as the life support system of Planet Earth and therefore a key element to alleviate poverty, as well as for sustainable development and for the environment.
Two new bodies were created: the IOC Sub-Commission for Africa, Including Adjacent Island States unifies the African regional bodies to improve IOC visibility, facilitate coordination among the Member States in the region, and to ensure the efficient implementation of IOC programmes in Africa; and the GOOS Steering Committee, which replaces the GOOS Scientific Steering Committee, and its subsidiary panels on 31 December 2011.
The Commission approved, in conjunction with WMO the procedure for the Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology’s (JCOMM), formal adoption of the IOC-WMO Regional Marine Instruments Centres (RMICs) and designated the National Centre of Ocean Standards and Meteorology (NCOSM), Tianjin, China, as an RMIC for the Asia-Pacific Region, and of National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), Mississippi, USA, as an RMIC for North and Central America.
The Global Coordination of Early Warning and Mitigation Systems for Tsunamis and Other Sea-Level-Related Hazards received an extensive set of mandates which focused particularly on the need for strengthening the cooperation of Member States and the coordination by the Secretariat.
The Assembly accepted the offer of the Government of Flanders, Belgium, to continue hosting the office of the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange in Ostend and established an IODE Group of Experts for the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) as well as an IODE Steering Group for OBIS, including two project offices for IODE/OBIS.
The Assembly endorsed the report from the Tenth Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Harmful Algal Blooms (IPHAB) and approved its recommendations, highlighting the need to increase cooperation with SCOR, IODE and particularly Member States to participate in the HAB mechanisms.
A resolution on Data Buoy Vandalism, pointed out that issues related to piracy and vandalism are also issues involving marine scientific research and operational oceanography.
In summary, IOC XXVI Assembly emphasized improving the structure of IOC subsidiary bodies, where the major responsibilities of the Commission lie, and postioned the IOC to respond efficiently to the new challenges posed by the global oceanographic community.
For more information, please visit the IOC website at www.ioc-goos.org/index.php