It was with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation of the organising committee to say a few concluding words on behalf of the public body I represent, UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, which has afforded its patronage to this conference.
[For those of you who do not know me, I am head of the operational centre of the IOC-WMO, JCOMMOPS, which monitors the permanent in-situ elements of the global ocean observation system. I am, among other things, Agro Programme Technical Coordinator. One of the pillars of our understanding of climate and of new generation numerical modelling, Argo is one of the greatest Earth observation ventures and successes.]
Safety or security, development or (blue) growth, climate and environment, ultimately these terms offer a range of semantic options to express one fact: sustainable, effective development is not possible without in-depth knowledge of the ocean.
In the context of COP21, it is crucial to reposition the ocean at the heart of negotiations. This is the role of the IOC and its partners, particularly via the ocean-climate platform during last World Oceans Day.
It is also crucial to refocus discussion on maritime and port cities, which will be the vehicle for transforming our activities. They will provide the ‘blue solutions’ needed to resolve issues of economic development and to adapt to the effects of climate change.
Why not begin by decentralising Oceans Day and holding it in Brest, in a globally recognised maritime hub? I have suggested this to the IOC and invite you too to exploit your networks to bring decision-makers closer to the ocean.
In summarising the various (candid) remarks by participants on the security/climate/blue growth theme, I have noted several things:
The ocean as a source of life, culture and economic prosperity (only decision-makers remain to be convinced!)
General consensus and ‘common sense’ concerning the links between safety, environment, sustainable and effective development and the balance to be found between these different concepts.
Challenges taken into account by decision-makers are to a certain degree out of step with the ongoing transformation (intrinsic or caused by global changes) of the maritime economy.
Absolute necessity to predict physical, biogeochemical and biodiversity conditions and thus to assimilate data in numerical models in order to guarantee crucial societal applications in the field of security and sustainable development.
Some importance given to circulating and democratising access to information.
I would like to emphasise one particular point: ocean observation.
What would become of (traditional and extreme) weather forecasting, seasonal forecasts, managing pollution, optimising shipping routes, planning economic or political strategies without data assimilation and modelling? Not much is the answer. Why is it that we have such difficulty in funding the Argo programme ($25 M/yr) which is essential to the climate, or in developing a proper network of wave buoys required for safety at sea?
The ocean must become a political and therefore a funding priority.
Could France, which seems to be turning its back on its 11 M km2 of economic exclusion zone and which is hosting COP21, lead the way? The ocean will be effectively recognised as a political priority once it is an integral part of climate change funding.
Our challenge is therefore to convey the message to governments and to the general public to ensure that the ocean remains at the centre of discussions over the long term. In the face of half-hearted commitments from governments to ocean observation and against a background of economic pressures, we (international organisations) are also counting on civil society and industry to help us complete the networks. Ocean education, awareness-raising and literacy are, moreover, one of the key missions of UNESCO and its IOC, along with numerous partners such as Océanopolis here.
Making this Safer Seas conference part of the momentum created by COP21 itself sends out a strong message about how different players are adopting a mature approach to finding balanced security and economic development solutions in the context of climate change. And I hope that this message spreads beyond the confines of the event.
I would like to thank the organisers of the conference for inviting me. I extend my thanks too to the local authorities who underpin the momentum for the global campus of the sea initiative and who facilitated and provided financial support for the setting up of the IOC-WMO JCOMMOPS Bureau within the Technopôle Brest-Iroise site.
In conclusion, I would like to paraphrase a famous French quote from before the advent of numerical modelling: « Gouverner, c’est prévoir », meaning governing is about anticipating, and I would add that anticipating is about observing, so for me « gouverner, c’est observer »: governing is about observing.
I must also quote Mrs Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO who declared at the launch of World Oceans Day that « A sustainable planet cannot exist without a healthy ocean ».