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USF College of Marine Science


Marine Life 2030 endorsed as part of UN Decade of Ocean Science

Marine Life 2030

Marine Life 2030

Written by Kristen Kusek, Communications Director for USF CMS

The Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC), an arm of the United Nations, officially endorsed Marine Life 2030 to officially be part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). It is one of 66 actions endorsed by the UN on World Ocean’s Day.

“This program integrates expertise across many institutions, countries, and disciplines,” said Frank Muller-Karger, who spearheaded the design of the Marine Life 2030 program. “Societies everywhere need exactly this kind of sustained, all-hands-on-deck effort, and we’re beyond thrilled to have our program endorsed by the UN.”

UN Decade of Ocean Science

The goal of the UN Decade of Ocean Science is to do “the science we need for the ocean we want.” The primary goal of the 10-year Marine Life 2030 program is to establish a globally coordinated system to deliver actionable knowledge of ocean life to those who need it – promoting human well-being, sustainable development, and ocean conservation.

Many questions remain about how the abundance of marine organisms is changing over time in response to climate change, pollution, acidification, and more. Countless species remain to be discovered and knowledge of the ocean’s 200,000+ known species is fragmentary at best – all of this, at a time when human activities are causing the extinction of some 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animals species on the planet. 


“There have been several methods used by scientists to track species over time, for example – and we need to much better coordinate so that the science community can make truly actionable recommendations to policy-makers, management officials and other stakeholders,” said Muller-Karger.

Marine Life 2030 will serve as a connector and facilitator between several existing groups, such as the US Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), the GEO BON Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON), the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS), the World Conservation and Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the Ocean Knowledge Action Network of Future Earth, and many more. In addition to a host of national and international government partners, the program, led by the Smithsonian Institution, includes more than 30 NGO partners and nearly 40 academic partners across the globe.

“Today is a good day for the oceans and for all people, since we depend on life in the sea,” said Muller-Karger.

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Our blue planet faces a suite of challenges and opportunities for understanding and innovation. Our mission is to advance understanding of the interconnectivity of ocean systems and human-ocean interactions using a cross-disciplinary approach, to empower the next workforce of the blue economy with a world-class education experience, and to share our passion for a healthy environment and science-informed decision-making with community audiences near and far.