The Decade Working Group (DWG): Update

In the UK marine community the United Nations Decade of Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), hereafter ‘the Decade’, is gaining growing publicity. What is less well established is how UK marine researchers can participate in the Decade and how funding for research will emerge.

UK interaction with the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) which is leading the UN effort is led through the National Decade Committee (NDC). The NDC is primarily organised by government and tackles high level issues around protocols, reporting and raising awareness. Separate mechanisms are therefore required to enable UK researchers to participate in research in the remit of the Decade. With this in mind the NOC Association recently encouraged the establishment of a Decade Working Group (DWG) to help the research community gather ideas and, importantly, to seek funding. The membership of the DWG was selected based on an open call and is given below. Members are serving in their capacity as individuals and will have no advantage in any successful funding bids.

The DWG plans to explore how a range of different options may deliver funding to support scientific activity within the context of the Decade. Broadly speaking these options include UKRI/NERC, appropriate government departments, industry and philanthropy. In the short term, one of the roles of the DWG will be to encourage the relevant communities to develop the priority themes that came out of the Royal Society’s GERC Decade workshop ( into potential ideas to the NERC Highlight Topics call. The DWG will also look towards how to develop other topics for large-scale funding opportunities.

In the meanwhile, UK researchers who already have funded projects that might qualify for endorsement as official Decade projects should apply to IOC. It is not in the remit of either the NDC or the DWG to endorse projects. Details on how to request endorsement, and other information about the Decade, are available on the IOC website

The DWG will periodically communicate to update on progress through inter alia the Challenger Society, the NOC Association of Marine Science National Capability Beneficiaries, the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology in Scotland and the Marine Science Coordination Committee.

DWG members
Dr Heather Bouman University of Oxford
Professor Peter Liss University of East Anglia
Dr Philip Newton University of Reading
Dr Christopher Pearce National Oceanography Centre
Professor Alessandro Tagliabue University of Liverpool
Professor Sandy Tudhope University of Edinburgh
Professor Willie Wilson Marine Biological Association

The DWG is chaired by Professor Angela Hatton, National Oceanography Centre Director of Data, Science and Technology with Dr Michael Webb, Head of Research, Marine, Natural Environment Research Council, acting as advisor.

Priority themes arising from the Royal Society Global Environmental Research Committee (GERC) workshop on how the UK can make a successful research contribution to the UN Decade of Ocean Science:
1. Connecting the deep sea to society to support sustainable development.
2. Accelerating participatory solutions to the rapid changes facing coral coast ecosystems and dependent communities.
3. Improving our capacity to understand and predict sea level rise and its extremes to enable sustainable adaptation.
4. Understanding, forewarning and mitigating the impacts of multiple pressures on marine ecosystems and the services they provide.