World Ocean Day 2014

World Ocean Day Celebrations at UNESCO

"Together we have the power to protect the ocean "Each year, World Oceans Day (8 June) is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the challenges fEach year, World Oceans Day (8 June) is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the challenges faced by the international community in connection with the ocean.

It is essential to sustainable development: the ocean is the source of life and continues to play a crucial role in the lives of seven billion human beings. Several million people depend directly on the oceans for their food, travel and work. It is the Earth’s main lung, providing most of the oxygen we breathe, and is at the center of the planet’s climate processes.

On 10 June 2014, UNESCO will celebrate World Oceans Day with a day of events highlighting the organization’s multidisciplinary approach to work on ocean-related issues. The main objective of the day is to demonstrate how, by combining our efforts, each of us can contribute to the mitigation of threats to the ocean, and how we can change our relationship with the ocean to a mutually beneficial interaction.

UNESCO Message World Environment Day

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the World Environment Day, 5 June 2014

Small island developing States and climate change

World Environment Day is of particular relevance as we celebrate in 2014 International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). These “small islands” are really “vast ocean States” whose land area is only a part of their territory and whose experience is vital for all the inhabitants of our blue planet.

The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underlines the extreme vulnerability of SIDS to climate change. The growing frequency of cyclones and coastal flooding places the inhabitants of these islands in highly precarious situations. The acidification of the ocean combined with the increasing intrusion of saltwater into freshwater aquifers owing to rising sea levels pose significant risks for the food security of all people who depend directly on the sea for their food, affecting more than 2.6 billion people in the world.

The international community is not doing everything that it could do to prevent the environmental and human disasters that lie ahead. Our primary task is to better understand the current phenomena, through scientific research and knowledge sharing. It is the role of UNESCO, through the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), which compiles information on the aquifers of 43 SIDS, to improve strategies for managing this fragile and vital resource in the islands and in the world. The second key element is to turn this knowledge into capacity to act. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is involved in strengthening capacities in the sustainable management of oceans and coastal areas, to help confront the threats of tsunamis, rising sea levels and ocean acidification.

In this regard, traditional knowledge is a resource of wisdom and practices that are still widely underestimated and underutilized. A joint publication of UNESCO and the United Nations University (UNU) has helped to accelerate the recognition of this immense potential, including by the IPCC, which sees in it a major resource for adaptation to climate change.

Sustainable environmental action hinges on the education of all citizens, from the earliest age, in sustainable development. Several UNESCO programmes, such as the Sandwatch Project, aim to build the capacities of children, young people and adults to monitor and analyse changes in the coastal environment of more than 30 countries worldwide.

No single country, however powerful, can resolve the challenges of our common environment. We must act together, over the long term, as close as possible to the needs on the ground. This is the message that we must take to the Third International Conference on SIDS, scheduled for September 2014 in Samoa, which should guide the adoption of a more sustainable and equitable global development agenda. 

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QARTOD Water Level QA/QC Manual Announcement

 QARTOD Water Level QA/QC Manual Announcement

The US IOOS Office is pleased to announce the publication of a new US IOOS quality control procedures manual, Water Level, the fifth publication from the US IOOS QARTOD project. The manual can be downloaded at:

 In February 2012, the US IOOS Program Office formally established the Quality Assurance for Real Time Oceanographic Data (QARTOD) project to ensure a systematic process for establishing standard procedures for the quality assurance/quality control of key ocean observation data. The project is conducted in partnership with NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center.  Each manual provides a check list of QC tests for data collected in real-time and includes control steps for the sensors, in addition to those for collected data, which are critical to guaranteeing quality of the data. Each test contains codeable instructions for implementation and assumes the involvement of knowledgeable scientists, engineers, programmers, and technicians. Suggestions for QA best practices are provided in the appendix as a courtesy to the manual user.
These publications represent a major step forward for US IOOS in documenting best practices for QA/QC for the ocean observing community. It was written in close collaboration with experts from the ocean observing community, including many of you, and I deeply appreciate all your contributions. And I am especially grateful to the entire NOAA NOS CO-OPS team who really stepped up, and to the QARTOD team including Joe Swaykos, Mark Bushnell, Helen Worthington, and Ray Toll who have done an outstanding job leading this work.  I am also particularly grateful to the QARTOD Board of Advisors that includes Joe Swaykos as Chair, Julie Thomas, Julie Bosch, Chris Paternostro, Bob Jensen, Janet Fredericks, Matt Howard, and Derrick Snowden.

 The timing of this rollout is particularly important as our planet continues to be challenged with sea level rise and other various climate change impacts. I believe a concerted effort on the part of our community to address this challenge is fundamental and key, and I hope this new manual can play a supporting role.

 This manual is the fifth in a series of similar quality control manuals that IOOS will publish, each focused on a different oceanographic variable.  A manual for Wind Speed and Direction will be published later this year. Please keep an eye on our web site!

 Zdenka Willis

US IOOS Office

UNESCO Message 22-05-14: International Day for Biological Diversity


Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Day for Biological Diversity, 22 May 2014

 UNESCO and Island Biodiversity

 This year, the International Day for Biological Diversity is dedicated to “island biodiversity,” in line with the designation by the United Nations General Assembly of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

 In September, Samoa will host the Third International Conference of Small Island Developing States. UNESCO is helping to prepare this major event, which will help to shape a new global sustainable development agenda to follow 2015. This agenda must recognize the importance of Small Island Developing States for global sustainable development.

 Island biodiversity is essential here. Many islands and archipelagos have evolved unique biodiversity over time, with a high rate of endemism and particular conservation challenges, with species on small islands being particularly vulnerable to extinction.

 The livelihoods and cultural identities of islanders have always been inextricably linked to biodiversity. However, with the presence of people and associated biodiversity — crops, livestock and pests — the risk of extinction to native biodiversity is especially high, and novel communities of species have largely replaced native island biodiversity in many places. Today, climate change, natural disasters, and skewed development are threatening the sustainability of human communities on islands as well as island biodiversity.

 UNESCO is acting to address these challenges. The sub Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves (20 members) and the Network for Pacific Biosphere Reserves (10 members) belong to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. The World Heritage Convention also includes many natural sites on islands.

 UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is building the leadership capacity of the directors of marine and coastal sciences institutes, with a focus on Small Island Developing States, where livelihoods depend heavily on marine resources. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s Ocean Biogeographic Information System is a gateway to the world's ocean biodiversity and biogeographic data and information, building and maintaining a global alliance of over 500 institutions in 56 countries, including in Small Island Developing States.

 UNESCO is also working through such initiatives as Climate Frontlines and Sandwatch, to build the capacities of islanders and to develop networks that help communities to self-organise and create their own resources that are culturally sensitive and scientifically sound. This includes initiatives to help conserve island biodiversity.

 Throughout all of this, UNESCO is committed to working with all partners for the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, and the Organization is contributing full-steam to preparing a successful Third International Conference of Small Island Developing States.

 As we shape the post-2015 development agenda, we must recognise the importance of island biodiversity and work together to ensure the conservation of this precious and irreplaceable natural resource, which is the basis of human well-being.




World Press Freedom Day - 3 May 2014

Joint Message from Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations and Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2014

Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda

 This year, the international community has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to prepare a long-term agenda for sustainable development to succeed the Millennium Development Goals when they end in 2015.  Successfully implementing that agenda will require that all populations enjoy the fundamental rights of freedom of opinion and expression. These rights are essential to democracy, transparency, accountability and the rule of law. They are vital for human dignity, social progress and inclusive development.

 World Press Freedom Day highlights the importance of independent, free and pluralistic media to protecting and promoting these rights.  Journalism provides a platform for informed discussion across a wide range of development issues – from environmental challenges and scientific progress to gender equality, youth engagement and peacebuilding. Only when journalists are at liberty to monitor, investigate and criticize policies and actions can good governance exist.

 Even as we look beyond 2015, we must confront current grave threats to press freedom around the world. In many countries journalists and other media workers face systematic obstacles to reporting the truth, ranging from censorship, arrest and imprisonment to intimidation, attacks and even assassination. These outrageous abuses show that press freedom and the human rights it underpins are extremely fragile and must be actively defended. 

 The United Nations General Assembly has unequivocally condemned all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers.  Governments and all those with influence must now act on this condemnation by protecting journalists and other media workers.  The United Nations stands ready to do its part. UN bodies are already working together and with other partners under the leadership of UNESCO to create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers around the world.

 On this World Press Freedom Day, we call on all States, societies and individuals to actively defend freedom of expression and press freedom as fundamental rights and as critical contributions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the post-2015 development agenda.