United Nations
Advancing solutions oriented integrative ocean sustainability research within the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network (Ocean KAN)
by Future Earth (Scientific community)
Human wellbeing inextricably links with the wellbeing of the ocean, however the rate of change in ocean health is accelerating, putting at risk the many services that the ocean provides to humanity. SDG 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development was explicitly dedicated to the ocean and in order to achieve this goal by 2030, more coherent, inclusive and effective ocean understanding, conservation and governance arrangements are needed. Defining targets for ocean health and sustainability, establishing the knowledge base needed to maintain and improve the health of ocean systems, and developing tools, methods and approaches to predict and respond to shocks or disasters to and from ocean systems all represent critical research needs. Finding innovative solutions for protecting the ocean and for the sustainable use of the marine system services requires new partnerships at all scales, connecting researchers, businesses, NGOs, practitioners and decision makers. Global cooperation, integrated trans-disciplinary research and dialogue with decision-makers around the world are needed. More than ever, scientists need to work directly with all sectors of society to ensure the sustainable future of our oceans.

A recently established multi-stakeholder platform the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network (Ocean KAN) is supported by the international programmes Future Earth and its marine Global Research Projects, WCRP-CLIVAR, IOC-UNESCO and ICSU-SCOR, and aims at advancing integrated ocean research globally to chart a course from knowledge of ocean systems to changes in policies, practices, governance and behaviours that will support sustaining those systems. In a bottom-up process the Ocean KAN facilitates the formation of transdisciplinary teams and new integrative initiatives that will address these challenges by co-designing scalable and integrated systems-approaches in collaboration with natural and social sciences, economics and engineering, as well as policymakers, resource managers, businesses and industries, civil societies and other societal partners. It will also generate new research and partnerships to ensure fast track response to pressing societal questions and the implementation of SDG14.

To set in motion concrete work based on the scoping activities held during a workshop in December 2016 and to roll out an integrated research agenda to catalyze and focus national ocean research and innovation networks, a first deliverable will be the establishment of the Ocean KAN Development Team. The primary role of the Development Team is to mobilize the scientific and the stakeholder community to design and implement activities aligned with the vision of the KAN and engage in the more specific planning of the Ocean KAN ambition. For the preparation of the Research and Engagement Plan and a Funding Strategy, issues concerning management, financing, communication and engagement willingness and the needs for co-design and co-production will be taken into account. The Ocean KAN members will regularly share information related to relevant events, conferences, meetings and capacity building activities and will engage with other interest groups and stakeholders. Prospective partners and possible funding institutions will continuously be identified. We invite everyone to join us in unlocking the power of action-oriented research to secure the future health of our oceans.
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
  • Plastics product bans or restrictions
  • Plastics recovery/recycling/reuse
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
  • Community or Locally Managed Marine Areas
  • Integrated Coastal Management
  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Large Marine Ecosystem approach
By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information
Type of commitment
  • MPA management and/or enforcement
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
  • Economic benefits from sustainable fisheries
  • Economic benefits from sustainable aquaculture/mariculture
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Scientific cooperation
  • Actions that support SIDS and LDCs
Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
Type of commitment
  • Activities to raise awareness of the comprehensive legal and policy framework for the sustainable development of oceans and seas, in particular UNCLOS, its Implementing Agreements and other relevant ocean-related instruments and promote their effective im
  • Strengthening ocean governance, for example through the development of a national ocean policy or regional ocean policy
  • Development of necessary infrastructure and/or enforcement capabilities to comply with international law, as reflected in UNCLOS and as complemented by other ocean-related instruments
May 2017
Establishment of the Ocean KAN Development Team
May 2018
Completion of the Research & Engagement Strategy
May 2018
Roll out of first projects and activities
November 2017
Ocean KAN Kick-off meeting
In-kind contribution
National Ocean Science funding and Belmont Forum Collaborative Research Action Proposal
Staff / Technical expertise
Ocean KAN Secretariat (Part-time employee for coordination)
Other, please specify
Workshops, Websites and Ocean Information Products
Basic information
Time-frame: 05/2017 - continuous
Future Earth (scientific community), WCRP-CLIVAR (scientific community), IOC-UNESCO (scientific community), ICSU-SCOR (scientific community), Future Ocean (scientific community), Future Earth Coasts (scientific community), IMBeR (scientific community), SOLAS (scientific community), PAGES (scientific community), bioDISCOVERY (scientific community), Earth System Governance (scientific community), GOOS (scientific community)
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Martin Visbeck, Prof. Dr., visbeck@dkn-future-earth.de, +49-431-600-4100
Kiel, Germany
Other SDGs
United Nations