The NOC participates in a number of international fora, engaging with governments and agencies from developed and developing countries to support a global community of marine related organisations endeavouring to provide the necessary capacity to address global challenges. As the UK’s leading marine research centre, we will also endeavour to work with the UK Overseas Territories.
In total the NOC is represented on over 100 international programmes, initiatives and boards. Highlighted here are the key forums where the NOC provides representatives to initiatives that address regional and global scale issues.
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO)
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is the UN body responsible for ocean science. It supports international collaboration and standards in ocean science. The NOC provides the UK Delegation to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) in order that that representation is scientifically and technically led. The NOC receives and disseminates information relating to global scale programmes, working with partners throughout the UK, including the UK National Commission for UNESCO, the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to ensure UK interests are best represented. The remit also involves contributing to policy and programme decisions by way of participation at biannual meetings of the Executive Council and General Assembly.
International Seabed Authority (ISA)
As the leading UK agency working on the High Seas and in the deepest parts of the world’s ocean the NOC has many years’ experience exploring environments of the deep seafloor where mineral resources can be found. These range from discovery of hydrothermal vent systems on mid-oceanic ridges, research of cobalt crust formation on seamounts to ecosystem health of deep abyssal plains where manganese nodules form. We use our experiences to support UK Government interests in ensuring the ISA delivers its remit as the competent UN organisation responsible for organising and controlling activities in the Area. A NOC representative also sits on the Board of the ISAs Endowment Fund for Marine Scientific Research, which enables participation of individuals from developing states in deep seafloor mineral initiatives. The NOC has also supported the provision of Internships at the ISA Head Office in Kingston, Jamaica.
Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS)
The NOC is a Host Institute supporting The Nippon Foundation of Japan Fellowship Programme, as executed by the DOALOS. The Fellowship fund provides capacity-building and human resource development to developing States Parties and non-Parties to UNCLOS. The NOC provides a supervisor to Fellows from all over the globe who have projects relating to maritime space and governance of the marine environment.
Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)
As the UK’s leading agency undertaking research on the High Seas it is of particular relevance to the NOC what the outcome will be of Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (General Assembly resolution 72/249) i.e. the BBNJ Treaty negotiations. To this end the NOC provides a scientific advisor to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office supporting the UK Government (Defra and FCO specifically) in developing UK positions insofar so as to ensure the UK Government is cognisant of how activities on the High Seas are undertaken, help minimise the impact of the BBNJ Treaty on marine scientific research on the High Seas and advise on initiatives within other international endeavours, including in relation to Capacity Building and the Transfer of Marine Technology.
European Marine Board
The NOC is an active member of the European Marine Board (EMB) and also provides the Alternate Member on behalf of NERC-UKRI. The EMB is an independent advisory body and provides a forum for research institutes, academic consortium and research funders from across Europe to discuss scientific developments at the strategic level. The Board horizon scans and develops shared positions on priorities areas, in particular in relation to where science can influence policy, nationally and within the EU. The Board is supported by a Secretariat which is tasked with the delivery of position papers, future science briefs, policy briefs and science commentaries.
The EMB establishes bespoke, time limited working groups to work on specific publications. The NOC uses its wide-ranging pool of experts to contribute where able as well as reaching out to the broader UK marine community to ensure that UK researchers remain active and excerpt influence within a European forum.
The EMB currently also has two expert panels, a Communications Panel (EMBCP) and the Universities Consortium Panel (UCP). The NOC currently chairs the EMBCP.
As the European component of the IOC-UNESCO’s Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), EuroGOOS provides a forum that identifies priorities, enhances cooperation and promotes the benefits of operational oceanography to ensure sustained observations are made in Europe’s seas, underpinning a suite of fit-for-purpose products and services for marine and maritime end-users.
The NOC is one of three UK members of EuroGOOS, the two others being the UK Met Office and Cefas. Between the three agencies the UK is well represented in influencing and delivering ocean observations in Europe’s regional seas.
Partnerships for Observations of the Global Ocean (POGO)
The POGO is a forum created by directors and leaders of major oceanographic institutions around the world to coordinate, jointly plan and promote long-term cooperation of global ocean observing programmes.
As a key contributor to coastal and open ocean observation programmes the NOC uses its experience and influence in support of a global initiative to ensure long-term ocean observations are recognised for their societal benefits.
The UK is a member of the JPI Oceans Management Board, jointly funded by Defra and NERC-UKRI. The NOC provides support to NERC-UKRI in maintaining a watching brief on JPI Oceans activities.