The 2nd International Ocean Research Conference is being held nine years after the first meeting: knowledge of the marine environment has progressed at an unprecedented rate during the past decade. One of the conference objectives is to put the world’s oceans firmly on the international political agenda, which has focussed mainly on terrestrial carbon dioxide emissions, in the run-up to the climate change summit in Paris in 2015. Participants in the conference include Jane Lubchenco, a former member of President Obama’s ‘science dream team’, and Daniel Pauly, a marine biologist and critic of modern fishing practices, among other experts. The UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Oceanographic Society are organising the conference alongside the FNOB, who are working to enhance the role of the Barcelona World Race as a sounding-board for the environmental preservation of the oceans.

Barcelona will welcome some 600 experts from over 70 countries for the 2nd International Ocean Research Conference from the 17th to the 21st of November. The delegates will be mapping out the route for the coming decade to tackle the problems facing the world’s oceans, such as rising sea levels, acidification, seawater warming, the current state of coral reefs and the effects of overfishing.

The 1st International Ocean Research Conference was held at the UNESCO headquarters in June 2005. Nine years later, and following considerable advances in oceanographic research, the scientific community are gathering in Barcelona, with an agenda featuring many brand new issues in a meeting that will take place at the Barcelona International Conventions Centre (CCIB), organised by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO IOC), the Fundació Navegació Oceànica de Barcelona (FNOB) and The Oceanography Society.

The conference includes participation from renowned specialists such as Jane Lubchenco, from Oregon State University (USA), who was a member of President Obama’s scientific ‘dream team’ and Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) at the United States Department of Commerce; Daniel Pauly, a marine biologist from the University of British Columbia (Canada) with a PhD in Fishing Biology and Biological Oceanography and a critic of modern fishing practices; and Shin-ichi Uye, from the University of Hiroshima (Japan), one of the world’s leading researchers into the giant jellyfish.

The conference is also aiming to put the ocean issue firmly on the international political agenda in the run-up to the Conference of Parties in the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change (COP21), taking place in Paris in late 2015, which is aiming for a universal climate agreement with obligatory compliance from all countries, the first in over 20 years of UN negotiations, to include countries with some of the highest greenhouse gas emissions.

The world’s oceans have been on the margins of international talks on climate, which have been very much focussed on terrestrial emissions of carbon dioxide.

However, the ocean is the planet’s leading producer of oxygen. The ocean plays the role of ‘lung’ as important as that of the world’s forests. As it absorbs a quarter of the emissions of carbon dioxide sent into the atmosphere by human activity, it performs a vital regulatory function in the battle against climate change. However, increasing CO2 emissions mean that seawater is becoming acidified, posing a grave threat to corals and crustaceans.

The conference will take place at the CCIB between the 17th and 21st of November, but will start on Sunday the 16th with a keynote address by US oceanographer Mike Roman, President of the Scientific Committee for the 2nd International Ocean Research Conference. This opening address will be held at the Salón de Cientos at Barcelona Town Hall with the leading local authority representatives in attendance.

The organisation of the 2nd International Ocean Research Conference in Barcelona is part of the FNOB’s commitment to science and the Barcelona World Race’s mission to protect the environment. The boats taking part in the round the world regatta will also be taking part in scientific research projects coordinated by the UNESCO IOC, whose slogan “One Planet, One Ocean” also lends its name to one of the teams taking part, with skippers Aleix Gelabert and Dídac Costa on board. The boat is being used as a platform for raising environmental awareness and to carry out environmental research.

Take a look at the conference programme here: