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Research and innovation

International policy

Oceans and seas are international and cross borders. EU research and innovation relies on international agreements, fora and goals. Some of these are explained on this page with links to further reading.

International ocean governance

The communication on international ocean governance by the Commission and the EU's High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs set out 50 measures to achieve safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans.

One of the 3 key pillars of the communication is dedicated to strengthening international ocean research and data.

The communication is an integral part of the EU's response to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals - specifically goal 14 explained below. 

Our Ocean conference

This conference has been held since 2014 in response to widespread deterioration of the marine environment.

EU made 23 new commitments at the Our Ocean 2018 conference. These commitments represent around €300 million and cover all 6 themes of Our Ocean. These add to the 35 commitments made by the EU in 2017. 

More information

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has 17 Goals - all directly or indirectly relevant to ocean economy and food.

Goal 14 is 'Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.'

The EU allocates additional funds to a number of research and innovation projects related to this goal, notably on the relationship between oceans and human health (€2 million), removal and re-use of marine litter (€26.5 million) and sea food safety (€7 million).

More information

United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)

The United Nations designated the years 2021 to 2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to boost international coordination and cooperation in research and scientific programmes for better management of ocean and coastal zone resources and reducing maritime risks.

The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will be leading the campaign.

UN Ocean Decade website

G7 Future of the Seas and Oceans initiative

The G7 Science and Technology Ministers’ Meeting in Tsukuba in May 2016 agreed to launch the Future of the Seas and Oceans Initiative. This is known as the Tsukuba Communiqué.

The aim is to make ocean observations and data management in European seas and the Atlantic Ocean fit for the future.

The EU works on several actions that contribute  to the implementation of the Tsukuba Communiqué.

In particular

  • demonstrating the feasibility of the European component of a future Global Ocean Observing System
  • promoting open science and the improvement of the global data sharing infrastructure
  • making ocean observations and data management in European seas and the Atlantic Ocean fit for the future 
  • promoting increased G7 political‐cooperation by identifying additional actions needed to enhance future routine ocean observations
  • advancing the the follow‐up of research on marine litter (including plastic litter) within the G7

G7 report on the future of the seas and oceans