United Nations World Ocean Assessment III

As the human population grows, the oceans are facing an unprecedented challenge to maintain the vital services they support, from oxygen, food and water, to the rich biodiversity of animals and plants. Managing the uses of these oceans is vital. The successful management of human pressures requires an adequate understanding of the activity and of the context in which it takes place. Broad scale assessments of the status of our oceans have highlighted marine ecosystems which are vulnerable, and focussed on unsustainable human pressures, yet our ability to act is often hampered by incomplete data.

Following a recommendation by the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, in 2016 the United Nations (UN) completed the first global integrated assessment of the state of the worlds’ ocean. This first Assessment established a baseline for measuring the marine environment, and highlighted the scale of the challenges that we face, including on climate change, marine living resource exploitation, biodiversity, use of ocean space, inequalities in ocean benefits, and problems of delay in implementing known solutions among others. Additional details can be found in the Summary of Assessment.
The Second assessment took place from 2016-2020 and updated the assessment from the first cycle, including evaluating trends and identifying gaps in knowledge and in capacity-building that need to be overcome if we are to deal with these challenges and integrating environmental, economic, and social aspects. Additional details can be found in the Second World Ocean Assessment.
The third cycle of the Regular Process was agreed by the UN General Assembly with resolution 74/19 to run from 2021 to 2025. The third cycle will focus on the state of the marine environment (including socioeconomic aspects) in light of the trends since the baseline of World Ocean Assessment I and the update of World Ocean Assessment II. In addition to the scientific assessment and update on the status of global marine ecosystems, new topics include a stronger focus on human use of the marine ecosystem and resulting pressures, as well as One Health and advancing technologies. A stronger emphasis on outcome communications is also expected. The outline of the Third Assessment provides further details on the topics within this Assessment.
Get involved
We now need to identify a pool of experts in these topics who are willing to draft the necessary chapters, and also for peer-reviewers to review the content. As you can see from the list of expertise, there are many opportunities to contribute, particularly in topics such as ocean and human health, pollution and ecotoxicology, or marine genomics, but also around ocean governance or science communication. A full list of expertise and geographical areas needed is given below.
All applications are welcome. Having a range of experiences and backgrounds in the Pool of Experts better reflects the communities involved and brings in different perspectives to the Assessment. We particularly welcome applications from experts who have not previously
engaged in the World Ocean Assessment, experts from all backgrounds and circumstances regardless of disability, gender, age, ethnicity, LGBT+ identity and socio-economic status, and from experts whose geographical research focus is in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Persian Gulf. Contributing to WOAIII will be a great opportunity to bring your science to a global audience. If you want your science to have a documented impact on the world stage, then you should get involved in one of the drafting teams.
The timetable
The UK National Focal Point (NFP) to the UN for the WOA-III, Dr Marta Soeffker (scienceoffice@cefas.co.uk) is looking for individuals to fill the Pool of Experts by the 31st of August 2023. Work will begin in September 2023 and the final draft will be completed by mid-2024 with publication in 2025.
If you are interested in contributing or just want to find out more, please contact your NFP and ask for more details.
We look forward to hearing from you!