The breadth, depth, and complexity of ocean data reflects the enormity of the world’s oceans. Touching every part of the globe and covering topics as wide ranging as biodiversity, chemistry, and economics, ocean data can be harnessed more fully by public and private actors to ensure a sustainable, healthy, and productive future for our oceans. It’s critical to realizing the potential of the “Blue Economy,” the sustainable use of the oceans for economic growth.
Since 2019, CODE has been working with partners including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Ocean Conservancy, Esri, Microsoft, and Amazon to explore the current state and future of ocean data in the United States and around the world. In February 2020, we co-hosted a Roundtable with those partners that explored ways to make NOAA’s ocean data, part of one of the largest data inventories of any federal agency, more accessible and useful for the public through NOAA’s Big Data Program (BDP). The Roundtable connected NOAA and its private-sector partners in the BDP with potential data users at other federal agencies, state, local, and regional groups, and private organizations like Esri and Ocean Conservancy. The Roundtable helped inform a larger research project that CODE conducted in partnership with Ocean Conservancy that surveys the current state of ocean data in the U.S. and proposes policy changes to strengthen the ocean data ecosystem. The resulting paper, Challenges and Opportunities for Ocean Data to Advance Conservation and Management was released on May 20, 2021.
Later in 2020, CODE had the opportunity to bring together a group of ocean data experts to explore the state of the art as well as the future of ocean data around the world. These experts participated in our 2020 Virtual United Nations World Data Forum Session, Data for the Blue Future: New Collaborations for Progress, which you can view below. The session produced new insights around using ocean data for ocean management, fighting climate change, and the sustainable development of the ocean economy. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Ocean Conservancy, the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution - Ocean, and World Resources Institute described how ocean data can be used for integrated management and sustainable economic development. Esri and Amazon showed how data can help us understand climate change and move towards a more sustainable future. Finally, a representative from Open Data Charter discussed how openness can be encouraged and scaled around specific topics, using the example of the Climate Open Up Guide. Overall, the panel highlighted the need for a user-driven approach to ocean data and management that includes engagement of indigenous communities, small island developing states, people of color, and other underrepresented communities. You can read more about how natural resource managers, Federal agencies, and local communities should be empowered to engage in informed decision using high quality science in our GovExec piece.