IOC adopts OBIS, June 2015


The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission,

Noting the great progress that has taken place under the Global Census of Marine Life (CoML) programme and that this ten-year initiative, to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life in the oceans, will conclude at the end of 2010,

Gratefully acknowledging the foresight shown and the support given to CoML by the Sloan Foundation,

Recalling the expression of support at the start of the CoML and its associated Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) from the 33rd Session of the Executive Council and the instruction to the IOC Secretariat to develop an appropriate mechanism for IOC involvement in the Census,

Further Recalling that subsequent IOC Executive Councils and Assemblies have welcomed the progress achieved and called for continued interaction with this activity, in particular IOC Resolution XXIII-3 that encouraged the integration of OBIS into IODE and the 39th Session of the IOC Executive Council that called for continued development of the interaction between the Commission and CoML,

Appreciating the Resolution of the UN General Assembly A/RES/63/111, that inter alia reiterates “… its serious concern over the current and projected adverse effects of climate change on the marine environment and marine biodiversity, and emphasizing the urgency of addressing this issue”, and “encourages States, individually or in collaboration with relevant international organizations and bodies, to enhance their scientific activity to better understand the effects of climate change on the marine environment and marine biodiversity and develop ways and means of adaptation”,

Recognizing that an OBIS Programme within the IOC will create a valuable source of information, inter alia, for DIVERSITAS, UNESCO/MAB Programme and UNESCO’s Strategy for Action on Climate Change, as well as for a wide range of other users within and outside the United Nations,

Recognizing also that OBIS has an important role to play in contributing to external intergovernmental and international organizations dealing with global fisheries, environmental and biodiversity issues including, but not restricted to, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the Group on Earth Observations – Biodiversity Observations Network, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and that this role should be continued and expanded in the future,

Recalling the request from the OBIS Governing Board and the decision of the IOC Executive Council at its 41st Session to consider possible scenarios for a future home for OBIS within the IOC, by concentrating on the possibility of the creation of an IOC/OBIS Programme and an IOC/OBIS Programme Office,

Acknowledging that CoML, and the research, information and data it has generated, provides an important tool for the international community to use in the development of policies for ocean and coastal management and to address the critical issues related to climate change,

Acknowledging also that the commitment of IOC and UNEP with regard to the UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/60/30 for an Assessment of Assessments, leading to a regular review of the state of the ocean environment, would not be feasible without access to the science, information and data on marine biodiversity, such as that accumulated under OBIS,

Noting with appreciation the agreement of the OBIS Governing Board, in April 2009, to the adoption of OBIS by IOC,

(i) to accept OBIS within the IODE Programme and start its integration on a schedule that will ensure a smooth transition of OBIS into IOC as its responsibilities and funding under the CoML are completed;
(ii) to request the OBIS Governing Board to continue oversight of OBIS until the completion of the CoML 2010 Synthesis, in an advisory capacity, in consultation with the IODE Officers;
(iii) to maintain the identity and visibility of OBIS within IOC, taking into account the interest and commitment built up within the ocean biodiversity research community over the last decade, including the ability to interact with other relevant intergovernmental and international bodies;

Requests the IOC Executive Secretary:

  1. to undertake the administrative arrangements necessary for OBIS activities to continue under the auspices of IOC and its IODE Programme;
  2. to set up a multi-source fund within the IOC Trust Fund for the support of OBIS and to keep the IOC Member States fully informed of the commitments made and the adequacy of the resources available;
  3. to investigate and establish cooperation with, and support from relevant research organizations, marine research stations, networks and other stakeholders;
  4. to take the necessary actions for the creation of an extra-budgetary OBIS Programme Officer position, and the preparation of documentation to the Director-General and the UNESCO Executive Board requesting a regular programme post for the OBIS Programme at the earliest opportunity;
  5. to explore a formal agreement for the hosting of an IOC Programme Office for OBIS with the current host institution of the OBIS Secretariat at Rutgers University, NJ, USA,
  6. to draft, in close consultation with the OBIS Governing Board, the Regional OBIS Node (RON) Management Group and IODE Officers, terms of reference for an OBIS Group of Experts, to be established under IODE;
  7. to draft, in close consultation with the IODE Officers, revised terms of reference for the IODE Committee, taking into account the extended mandate of the Committee through the adoption of OBIS;
  8. to report on progress and submit the necessary items for consideration and decision to the next Session of the IOC Executive Council in 2010;

Urges Member States:

  1. to contribute to the OBIS multi-source fund within the IOC Trust Fund;
  2. to consider other financial and/or in-kind support for OBIS to assist with its technical and research activities;
  3. to facilitate the collaboration of RONs and other OBIS data providers in the intergovernmental framework of IOC and its IODE Programme.