With an expected attendance of 1,500 people, the Conference, which will bring the global ocean community to Barcelona, will feature more than 40 international speakers.
Announced today at a press conference in Barcelona, the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference, titled Delivering the science we need for the ocean we want, will be held from April 10 to 12 at the Barcelona International Convention Center (CCIB). This Conference will mark a pivotal moment to celebrate achievements and set joint priorities for the future of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), or 'Ocean Decade’. The Conference is organized by UNESCO with the collaboration of the Spanish Ministery of Science, Innovation and Universities, the the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Council, the Fundació Barcelona Capital Nàutica, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (CSIC) and the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM), also part of CSIC.
Unveiling the programme at the Fundació Barcelona Capital Nàutica were representatives from UNESCO, which coordinates the Ocean Decade, as well as authorities from the different Spanish administrations represented by the Director of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography of the National Research Council (IEO-CSIC), María del Carmen García Martínez; the General Director for Maritime Policy and Sustainable Fisheries at Government of Catalonia, Sergi Tudela; and the Deputy Mayor for Economy, Tax, Economic Promotion and Tourism at the Barcelona City Council, Jordi Valls.
During the three-day event, a new foundation will be created to strengthen sustainable ocean management, showcasing innovative and transformative science-driven solutions. With an expected attendance of 1,500 actors of the ocean community and partners, the Conference will serve as a global forum where governments, leaders, maritime sectors, universities, NGOs, the private sector and civil society will meet and new collaborations will be fostered, spurred by rich dialogue between science, policy and society.
Four sessions to face the 10 Ocean Decade Challenges
The 2024 Ocean Decade Conference is structured in four thematic sessions based on the 10 Ocean Decade Challenges, combining plenary and parallel sessions to delve into the outcomes of the Ocean Decade 'Vision 2030' process. The sessions will also provide space to highlight ocean science initiatives and develop recommendations to chart a course for ocean conservation through knowledge sharing. The Conference will feature the participation of 40 speakers of international renown from diverse backgrounds ranging from scientific and political to economic and social.
The first thematic session, titled Science and Solutions for a Clean, Healthy and Resilient Ocean, will focus on marine pollution, ecosystems and the ocean-climate nexus. The sustainable ocean economy, food and resilient communities will be the focus of the second session, titled Science and Solutions for a Sustainable and Resilient Ocean Economy. The third session of the Conference, Science and Solutions for a Safe and Predicted Ocean, will be dedicated to ocean observation, forecasting and early warning systems; while the last session will be related to capacity development, ocean literacy, Indigenous and local knowledge and cultural heritage under the title An Inspiring and Engaging Ocean for All.
Beyond the Conference: An entire Ocean Decade Week
The 2024 Ocean Decade Conference will be the culmination of a whole week of events that will take place in Barcelona from April 8 to 12, during which more than 130 Satellite Events will complement the official programme, both on-site at the CCIB on all three days of the Conference and off-site on April 8 and 9. Off-site Satellite Events, many of which will be open to the general public, will be located in four main hubs around the city with a strong link to ocean science and solutions: the Ocean Hub, Sea Hub, Port Hub and City Hub.
The Satellite Events will be action-oriented and tangibly contribute to the final results of the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference. They will provide additional forums for debate, networking and knowledge exchange, in various formats such as discussion panels, presentations, interactive workshops or dialogues, with the aim of cultivating a dynamic and inclusive environment for attendees to deepen their understanding, collaborate and contribute to the objectives of the Ocean Decade.
In addition to the 130 Satellite Events, over 300 posters will be displayed at the CCIB and over 100 oral presentations on ocean science solutions will enrich the programme's parallel sessions.
Valentí Sallarès, Head of the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) is stitut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) is satisfied to actively participate in the organization of the Conference in Barcelona, the city where our Institute is based and adds
"To be able to host various events in our facilities, represents a magnificent opportunity for the ICM to directly reach society and to show, at the same time, our ability to generate useful knowledge, which affects ocean's health and thus, our own health."
During the press conference, Julian Barbière, Head of Marine Policy and Regional Coordination at UNESCO and Global Coordinator of the Ocean Decade, noted that “the challenges facing the ocean are immense, that is why the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference is an unique and much-needed opportunity for the entire global ocean community to collectively reflect on the achievements made since 2021 and pave the way for the future of the Decade to 2030, and beyond”. He added
"On behalf of the entire Conference organizing committee, I would like to warmly thank our partners from philanthropy, industry and governments who are sponsoring the Conference, including support to ensure participation of stakeholders from around the world.”
María del Carmen García Martínez, Director of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO-CSIC), highlighted the good level of ocean research infrastructures and scientific production and its realization into policies and ocean management, including fisheries or Marine Protected Areas. However,
“the knowledge, management and solution of problems associated with the seas cannot be solved by a city or a country alone and must be addressed through multilateralism and international organizations such as UNESCO and its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.”
Sergi Tudela, General Director for Maritime Policy and Sustainable Fisheries of the Government of Catalonia, assured that "we are pleased to announce that Barcelona and Catalonia will be the global capital of applied science for ocean sustainability for a week. This provides a perfect platform to showcase Catalonia's commitment to key issues such as marine scientific research, ocean governance, the development of the blue economy, the strengthening of applied science for the public, and our international outreach efforts. I am confident that Catalonia's excellence will be well represented at this international conference. We look forward to welcoming you all in April here in Barcelona."
Jordi Valls, Deputy Mayor for Economy, Tax, Economic Promotion and Tourism of the Barcelona City Council, stated that "the history of Barcelona has always been closely tied to its Mediterranean identity, particularly on an economic and commercial level. Despite this, the city spent many years turning its back on the sea. This began to change with the 1992 Olympic Games, marked by the redefinition of the waterfront. Since then, the city has opened up, especially to its beaches, and now is the time to look towards the sea".
"In the current situation of climate emergency, we cannot overlook the immensely important role of water: incorporating the sea as a key element in urban resilience is crucial. Sea, sustainability, and science are three deeply rooted concepts in Barcelona. The city strongly believes in the protection and defense of the Mediterranean. Barcelona is the scientific capital of Spain and a top-tier scientific reference.”
Ignasi Armengol, General Manager of the Fundació Barcelona Capital Nàutica, reaffirmed that “2024 is undoubtedly the year of the sea, with Barcelona and Catalonia as its capitals. That's why we will host significant events like this conference and the America’s Cup. The world will be watching, and it is the moment to place the sea at the center of all our actions."
Valentí Sallarès, from the Institute of Marine Sciences, manifests that “We hope that the conference will be a great success and that it will represent a real reference and starting point to build the ocean we want”.
The 2024 Ocean Decade Conference is organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Comission of UNESCO (IOC/UNESCO), the Generalitat of Catalonia, Barcelona City Council, the Fundació Barcelona Capital Nàutica and the National Committee of the Ocean Decade of Spain, which leads the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities through the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) and the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM), belonging to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The Conference is also being made possible with the financial support the governments of Canada, Japon and Portugal, as well as private foundations and companies, and numerous partners who are providing support for travel of under-represented groups to participate in the Conference.