The UN Ocean Decade Programme Led and Initiated by FIO Successfully Approved

On June 8, 2022, Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), officially sent a letter to congratulate on the official approval of the Programme "Ocean to Climate Seamless Forecasting System (OSF)", initiated by the First Institute of Oceanography of the Ministry of Natural Resources (FIO, MNR), led by Qiao Fangli, an academician of the International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, and jointly sponsored by 34 ocean and climate research institutions in 25 countries and 3 international organizations. This is the first mega-science programme launched in the field of physical oceanography in China under the framework of the United Nations (UN), marking that China has entered the international science leading stage from the long-term scientific and technological accumulation and development stage in the core field of ocean prediction and climate forecast, which is highly concerned by the international community.

The FIO, focusing on the international scientific frontier of ocean prediction and climate forecast, after decades of efforts, has formed a new pattern based on the original wave-induced mixing theory, with the world's first coupled wave-tide-current model and first Earth system model coupled with ocean surface waves as breakthrough points, and supported by the observation of a new type of high-efficiency cost-effective surface drifting buoy. The approved OSF Mega-science Programme takes addressing the fifth challenge of the Ocean Decade as its objective. It aims to cross the "blind area" from the current 7-day forecast to the short-term climate forecast for several months, and work with international partners to promote the substantial improvement of ocean prediction and climate forecast capabilities. The implementation of the OSF Programme will focus on the following five aspects: Strengthening scientific understanding of the relationship between ocean and climate, and further clarifying the controlling role of the ocean in the climate system; Greatly improving the ocean observation capability based on the observation of marine satellites and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and breakthroughs in theory and technology; Realizing the combination and assimilation between observation data and advanced models, crossing the "blind area" of forecasting, and substantially improving the forecasting ability on the basis of breakthroughs in forecasting theory and technology; Building a multi-hazard early warning system for ocean and climate, providing high-quality public service products for the international community, and deeply participating in global ocean governance with the support of science and technology; Conducting capacity-building for the younger generation, especially for young scientific and technological backbones in small island developing states, least developed countries and landlocked developing countries, and developing the advanced knowledge and ideas of young scholars in the world in ocean science and technology and ocean governance.

At the end of 2017, the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly passed a resolution, deciding that 2021-2030 would be the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (hereinafter referred to as the Ocean Decade), which will be organized and implemented by UNESCO/IOC, and the progress of the implementation will be reported to the UN General Assembly on a regular basis. In 2018, UNESCO/IOC selected 19 internationally renowned leading experts from around the world to form an Executive Planning Group (EPG). After three years of effort, they finished the compilation of the Implementation Plan for the Ocean Decade. The Implementation Plan was approved by the 75th session of the UN General Assembly at the end of 2020, and was officially implemented from January 1, 2021. In 2021, UNESCO/IOC selected 15 internationally renowned experts from hundreds of candidates around the world to form the Decade Advisory Board (DAB). According to the Implementation Plan, Decade Actions include programmes and projects, as well as activities and/or contributions, with different approval authority from high to low.

The mega-science programme is a global or regional action, which is characterized by concern for major global ocean scientific issues, interdisciplinary, multi-country participation, long implementation cycle and heavy investment. It boasts the highest scientific priority but also the most difficulty in application, organization and implementation. According to the different application processes, mega-science programmes are divided into registered ones and applied ones. Among them, the sponsors of registered mega-science programmes are UN entities, which can complete the application by filling out the registration form without review. The UN entities are the leading units of mega-science programmes of this type. The application process for the applied mega-science programmes is more complicated and the competition is fierce. It requires blind review and repeated deliberations by the DAB. The applicants are the leading units of mega-science programmes of this type. From October 2020 to January 2021, the first batch of Decade Actions began to be solicited, which mainly focused on the 10 Ocean Decade Challenges. A total of 214 applications for mega-science programmes were received worldwide, and only 31 were approved in the end. There were two Chinese programmes approved in the first batch, namely "Deltas Associated with Large Rivers: Seeking Solutions to the Problem of Sustainability" Programme initiated by the State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research (SKLEC), East China Normal University and "Global Estuaries Monitoring (GEM)" Programme initiated by the State Key Laboratory of Marine Pollution, City University of Hong Kong, both focusing on offshore estuaries.

From October 2021 to January 2022, the second batch of Decade Actions was solicited focusing on the first, second and fifth Ocean Decade Challenges. A total of 38 applications for mega-science programmes from 13 countries were received, and 4 were successfully approved, including 2 Chinese programmes. In addition to the OSF Programme, the "Global Ocean Negative Carbon Emission" Programme (Global ONCE) led by Academician Jiao Nianzhi from Xiamen University's State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science was also approved. To date, four Chinese Ocean Decade programmes have been approved. Under the background of such fierce international competition, the successful establishment of mega-science programmes initiated by Chinese scientists focusing on the core issues of global ocean science indicates that China's international competitiveness in this field has achieved a new leap forward.

From April to July 2022, the third batch of Decade Actions focusing on marine food and the blue economy is being solicited.