Celebrating World Oceans Day

This World Oceans Day, we are happy to celebrate advancements for Mercator Ocean International (MOi) towards becoming an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the Ocean, developments of the European Digital Twin of the Ocean, catalysing ocean prediction activities worldwide, and the 25th anniversary of the Copernicus programme.

This year’s World Oceans Day, June 8 2023, coincides with several major events and milestones for MOi and its many programmes and initiatives; these serve to illustrate MOi’s evolving role as it transitions into an intergovernmental organisation. World Oceans Day is an international day officially celebrated by the United Nations, designed to support the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and foster public and political interest in the protection of the ocean and the sustainable management of its resources.

An Intergovernmental Organisation Dedicated to Ocean Prediction

At the One Ocean Summit in February 2022, six European states signed the Declaration of Brest to develop an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to providing authoritative Ocean data, information, and knowledge based on a global digital ocean system. This new organisation will emerge from the intergovernmental transformation of Mercator Ocean International – the European leader in the digital ocean and operational ocean forecasting. The organisation will develop through the engagement of interested states, coordinated with relevant regional and global organisations such as the European Union and the United Nations.  

This new intergovernmental organization will deliver the digital tools, monitoring and forecasting services, and the Ocean knowledge required to support decision-making for a sustainable Ocean. 

Our mission is to: 

  • develop and share state-of-the-art marine environmental modelling and digital twin technologies that allow us to learn from the past, understand the present, and explore scenarios for the future. 
  • deliver Ocean monitoring and forecasting information and decision-support tools for research, government, management, industry, and the public.
  • provide a centre for international collaboration on Ocean prediction – from data collection to application valorization – where national, regional, and global actions contribute to a common framework. 
  • advance the development and use of Ocean knowledge (scientific, social, and economic) required to bridge the gap between Ocean information and action for sustainability.  
  • Inform, train, engage, and inspire Ocean knowledge developers and users. 

The first round of discussions with National Delegations started in Lisbon during the UN Ocean Conference in June 2022, which then continued into October. Discussions are still on-going to bring this new ocean IGO to life.

OceanPrediction, a United Nations Decade Collaborative Centre

The United Nations (UN) Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (referred to as ‘the Decade’) is coordinated by IOC-UNESCO to promote transformational, large-scale change to move from the ‘ocean we have’ to the ‘ocean we want’. As a part of this effort, the IOC-UNESCO entrusted Mercator Ocean International with hosting and piloting the OceanPrediction Decade Collaborative Centre, that aims “to galvanize and coordinate efforts towards the co-development and integration of worldwide ocean prediction activities, serving Decade objectives and in close collaboration with the Decade endorsed actions and other stakeholders”.

OceanPrediction helps us move toward reaching the “ocean prediction we need” by: Building an active community of users, scientists and policymakers (with additional focus on developing countries)​; and by harnessing the Decade framework and the arrival of the Digital Twin of the Ocean, to join and deliver together worldwide digital ocean services.

European Digital Twin of the Ocean

Next weekthe European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research (DG RTD) and Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) together with Mercator Ocean International and VLIZ are organising the second Digital Ocean Forum. It will bring together experts, stakeholders, policymakers and interested citizens in the co-design and co-creation of the European Digital Twin of the Ocean.

The European Commission first launched the development of the European Digital Twin of the Ocean (European DTO) at the One Ocean Summit in February 2022. A main element of the Digital Ocean Knowledge System under the EU Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters, the European DTO’s ambition is to make ocean knowledge readily accessible to all. From international policymakers to national governments and researchers, to businesses and entrepreneurs to activists and citizens, alike, the DTO will enable them to become partners in knowledge generation. The DTO platform will allow users to explore desirable futures, develop ocean management scenarios, and assemble their own twins for different applications, with the overarching goal of protecting marine and coastal habitats, supporting a more sustainable blue economy, and mitigating and adapting to climate change.

MOi will lend its full expertise and extensive experience to the European Commission and play a leading role in the development of the European DTO. Federating partners and initiatives on the EU and international level, MOi will ensure an inclusive and collaborative approach in building the digital framework, operational infrastructure, core model suite and virtual environment for the DTO.

Copernicus 25th Anniversary

June 8th  also marks the 25th anniversary of the EU’s flagship Earth observation programme, Copernicus and the fourth day of the General Assembly for the Copernicus Marine Service. Since 2014, MOi has been the entrusted entity of the European Commission to implement the Copernicus Marine Service.

As its implementor, MOi alongside highly skilled contractors in Europe, has shaped and developed the Copernicus Marine Service into the internationally recognized operational service that it is today.

During the Copernicus 25th anniversary event, several sessions will be dedicated to the ocean. Thomas Lesage, founder of Children for the Oceans, an NGO dedicated to engaging youth worldwide with ocean issues, will present in a satellite event held at the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse, France. He will highlight the importance of making young people aware of the many challenges facing the ocean (warming, acidification, pollution, overfishing, etc.) and discuss his youth ambassador programme that harnesses MOi ocean expertise and Copernicus Marine data. Mercator Ocean International and the Copernicus Marine Service have partnered with Children for the Oceans for the past several years developing synergies around ocean literacy for young people worldwide.