Culture and nature

The Oceans

The high seas are a "global public good". But even in the absence of sufficient international treaties, the oceans are in poor condition: sea levels are rising due to greenhouse gas emissions. The sea water is becoming increasingly acidic, with catastrophic consequences, including coral reefs. Because of overfishing many fish stocks are facing collapse. Plastic in the oceans kills many animals. Unregulated deep-sea mining can have dramatic consequences. People on the coasts are often vulnerable to tsunamis and storm surges.


To effectively protect the oceans, research and constant observation are necessary. However, this is expensive - and at the same time all states should benefit from it. Data should be collected according to uniform standards and not redundant. Many developing countries cannot afford their own observation systems.

Therefore, in 1960, UNESCO established the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) as a global forum for the coordination and promotion of oceanography and ocean observation. UNESCO and the UN General Assembly have declared the period from 2021 to 2030 to be the UN Decade of Ocean Research. The IOC is responsible for two goals of Goal 14 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda - and it is even the only United Nations agency specifically identified in the objectives of the 2030 Agenda. It also participates in the development of an international instrument for nature conservation on the high seas.

Through coordinated research, the IOC reduces scientific uncertainties regarding the sustainable management of the oceans and the management of climate change. It creates permanent observation services on the high seas and in the coastal seas. It supports international data and experience exchange and technology transfer. It strengthens the education and training of scientists and specialists from developing countries.

Germany participates intensively in the work of the IOC through the German IOC section located at the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). The German IOC section coordinates the participation of German institutions and scientists in the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. Several Federal Ministries, the German Weather Service, the German Research Foundation, the German UNESCO Commission and research institutions are represented in the German IOC section. Germany is constantly providing national infrastructure for IOC research, monitoring and training programs, such as research vessels. Also the establishment of tsunami early warning systems in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean / Northeast Atlantic has benefited a great deal from Germany.