Mr. Peter Thomson visited the First Institute of Oceanography on June 29 in Qingdao

Mr. Peter Thomson, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Ocean Affairs, visited the First Institute of Oceanography (FIO), Ministry of Natural Resources of China on June 29, 2023. Dr. LI Tiegang, Director General of FIO, and Dr. QIAO Fangli, Deputy Director General of FIO, together with representatives of relevant departments of FIO, had a meeting with Mr. Thomson. Dr. LI Tigang gave a warm welcome to the visit of Mr. Peter Thomson and a brief introduction of the work of FIO. He also pointed out that FIO is willing to actively participate in various ocean cooperation under the UN framework and make due contributions to the implementation of the UN Ocean Decade.

Mr. Peter Thomson had a meeting with FIO scientists

Mr. LI Tiegang, Director General of FIO, gave welcome remarks

Mr. Peter Thomson expressed that he attached great importance to the visit to Qingdao and FIO and was looking forward to strengthening cooperation with relevant units of China. He stated that the East Asia Ocean Forum, which is jointly hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the local government of Shandong and Qingdao, has become one of the important institutional meetings in the international arena, receiving wide attention and active participation from all aspects. Such highly influential international meetings were usually held in developed maritime countries in Europe and North America, but now China has gradually become another center of marine science and technology in the world. He particularly emphasized that achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) requires the joint efforts of government, science and technology community as well as enterprises.

Mr. Peter Thomson gave speech

Mr. YANG Yafeng, Director of the General Affairs Office of FIO, then introduced the FIO’s history, vision, mission and key research areas as well as its deep involvement in the UN Ocean Affairs and international marine cooperation. He highlighted the main progress and activities of FIO under the framework of the UN Ocean Decade. In particular, Dr. QIAO Fangli, Deputy Director General of FIO and the Foreign Member of Academia Europaea (MAE), has been elected as an expert of the Executive Planning Group and Advisory Board of the Decade, and has made active contributions to the preparation of the Implementation Plan of the Decade and the establishment of its global coordination mechanism. Besides, the Decade Collaborative Centre on Ocean-Climate Nexus, which was proposed by the FIO, has been approved by the UN Ocean Decade as one of the first five centers in 2022 . In addition, FIO is also leading the implementation of the Decade Programme "Ocean to Climate Seamless Forecasting System (OSF) " and two Decade projects as well as three Decade activities.

Mr. Peter Thomson expressed his appreciation for FIO’s deep involvement in the UN Ocean Decade and said that Qingdao has become an international center for the Decade design and implementation due to FIO’s work and achievements.

During the discussion, Dr. QIAO Fangli mentioned that prediction and observation are the important foundation and core work to achieve the seven expected outcomes of the UN Ocean Decade. However, the international scientific community has been facing the serious challenge of huge common deviations in ocean, typhoon and climate prediction. Dr. QIAO introduced scientific and technological breakthroughs achieved by FIO’s team in ocean prediction and observation, including the original establishment of the wave-induced mixing theory, the discovery of the key role of ocean waves in air-sea flux, and the development of new ocean, typhoon and climate models, which greatly improved the prediction accuracy. Besides, he also introduced the low-cost and high-precision intelligent Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) buoy developed by FIO, which will be further improved and applied globally under the framework of the Decade. GNSS is expected to raise the global ocean observation capability from a traditional buoy every 300 kilometers nowadays to a new-type buoy every 60 kilometers by the year of 2030. This ambitious 3060-observation-goal is likely to realize the fourth revolution in ocean observation.


Mr. QIAO Fangli, Deputy Director General of FIO and MAE, had a presentation

Mr. QIAO Fangli introduced the new GNSS buoy to Mr. Peter Thomson


Mr. Peter Thomson expressed strong interest in FIO's achievements in cyclone prediction. He recalled the situation after the typhoons that hit Fiji in the 1970s and argued that human society urgently needs high-precision forecasting products in order to cope with the increasingly severe and extreme environment. He asked in detail about the scientific and technical keys to significantly improve the forecast capability, and emphasized the importance of ocean monitoring, especially new technologies. Mr. Peter Thomson praised the new forecast model led by FIO as a very good public service product, which is especially important for small island countries.

Dr. SUN Chengjun, Senior Researcher of FIO, introduced the progress in the research of marine microplastics. She emphasized the widespread distribution of microplastics and their significant potential negative impact on bio-organisms and human health. However, there is a lack of unified international standards for the detection of microplastics, and the microplastics database is not yet sound, which requires concerted efforts of all countries to actively promote science-based global ocean governance programmes.

Mr. Peter Thomson said that species on Earth are currently in a difficult survival situation and that microplastics have been detected in human blood. He called for a reduction in the use of plastic products and the regulation of controlling microplastics in the same way as strict restrictions on smoking. He also expressed that it is a difficult task which requires intergovernmental consultation and negotiation, and hoped that FIO as an important marine research institution, can be more involved in related work and provide technical support.


Group photo in FIO

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Peter Thomson highly appreciated the visit to FIO, and commended FIO’s scientific and technological innovation achievements. He expressed his expectation on the active participation of FIO into the UN Ocean Conference in 2025, and stressed again that China's deep involvement is crucial to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal.