United Nations
Pacific Ocean Research Alliance
by Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme (Intergovernmental organization)
Management of coastal and oceanic areas in the Pacific islands region is constrained by significant gaps in scientific understanding of our marine systems. Traditional knowledge is integral, but responses to the rapid changes in both ocean conditions and human populations require the combination of traditional and novel knowledge sources.

This gap in science and research information is particularly evident in ocean areas where global interests and pressures out-pace the capacity of Pacific island nations to adequately understand and manage the area. Furthermore, Pacific island countries and territories urgently need increased science capacity to measure, monitor and report on progress toward the SDG14 targets and indicators. Where data and local/traditional knowledge are available, there are still gaps in transferring this data and knowledge to decision-makers.
Coordination is a strength of the region and serves to create efficiency while facilitating new work. Allying to build and share capacity makes the most of limited resources.

Taking the example of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance as a model, with a focus on both coastal and pelagic areas, we see an opportunity for a Pacific Ocean Research Alliance to:
1. Source and provide marine data, required to measure ecosystem status and progress toward SDGs and MEA targets. Joint actions will create synergies and efficiencies, minimise competition for funding options, and enhance the overall capacity and speed of marine science growth in the region;
2. Connect international, regional and national actors, including marine scientists and ocean policy experts, coordinating the (presently limited) marine data collection projects and programmes;
3. Build Pacific capacity for marine research, informed marine management, and international ocean advocacy through field research experiences, mentoring networks, and scientific writing development and practice; and
4. Support the Pacific Ocean Alliance and the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, which is presently operating with limited resources to support regional ocean management/policy.

In addition to working to meet the scientific needs of Pacific island countries, there is also a need to demonstrate the value of scientific research and the benefits. In addition to the direct benefits gained through greater understanding of the marine environment, investments in research help to stimulate innovation and thus local and national economies.
Progress reports
Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels
Type of commitment
  • Scientific research and cooperation to address ocean acidification knowledge gaps
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
  • Science-based fisheries management plans
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
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
  • Transfer marine technology
  • 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
  • Activities to develop the capacity of States towards broader participation in and effective implementation of UNCLOS and its implementing Agreements
December 2020
Baseline map of current marine research and number of oceanography related degree holders by 2020
December 2021
Preliminary marine bioregions described for the Pacific islands region by 2021
December 2030
100% increase in Pacific islanders with Marine Science degrees by 2030, with at least a 25% increase every 5 years
December 2030
>100% increase in funding allocated for marine research by 2030 in the Pacific is lands region, with a 25% increase every 5 years
In-kind contribution
Support as needed/feasible to identify gaps and opportunities, build partnerships, and access needed finance
Staff / Technical expertise
Support as needed/feasible to identify, design, and implement capacity building and training programs
Basic information
Time-frame: 2017 June - 2030 December
Pacific Community (SPC, Intergovernmental Organisation) Australia Bureau of Meteorology Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Government) University of Washington (University) The Ocean Policy Research Institute, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (Non-governmental organisation) New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Government/Private Sector) UNESCO-IOC (United Nations entity) IAEA (United Nations entity) Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD, Government and Academic Institution)
Ocean Basins
  • North Pacific
  • South Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Pacific Island Countries and Territories
Contact information
Tommy Moore, Pacific Islands Global Ocean Observing System Officer, tommym@sprep.org,
Apia, Samoa
Other SDGs
United Nations