Future Earth Ocean

Image: Arne Sturm

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The organisers of the workshop "Development of an Integrated Ocean Research Network - Future Earth's Ocean KAN" have published a report highlighting takeaway messages from the event. This workshop, which took place in December 2016 in Kiel, Germany, sought to scope key priorities for research under the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network.

Read the full or short version of the report.


The ocean forms a globally connected ecosystem and highly dynamic environment of physical, chemical, and biological interaction. It maintains a great diversity of life, exchanges mass and heat with the atmosphere and modulates our climate. The ocean, including coastal and nearshore areas, thus provide services essential for life on earth and to the history, culture and livelihoods of people across the globe. However, the ocean is also facing multiple challenges from climate change, overfishing, acidification, de-oxygenation and pollution. Accordingly, the United Nations referred to the importance of a healthy ocean in several of their Sustainable Development Goals.

The Future Earth Ocean Knowledge-Action Network seeks to address these challenges through solutions-oriented research and by engaging with stakeholders from diverse sectors and regions and by drawing on the strong fundamental research and innovative agendas of the international marine projects and communities in Future Earth and beyond.

Generating the knowledge that decision-makers need to preserve and enhance the health and value of the ocean will require defining the problems facing the ocean and its interfaces with the adjacent land and overlying atmosphere, understanding associated mechanisms, impacts, and consequences, and directing research towards their solutions. High-level key questions thus include:

  • How do human activities, combined with natural variability, affect the health of the ocean and coasts and their environmental and socio-economic services?
  • How can detrimental effects on ocean health be avoided?
  • How can ocean health and services to people be preserved or restored?

Engagement of a broad range of researchers and societal partners is central to the work of the Ocean Network. As such, Future Earth will facilitate transdisciplinary research that can be used by policy-makers, businesses and communities to achieve sustainable interactions of humans with the ocean at large. We will also work to build scientific capacity to empower researchers and societal partners worldwide to assess the state of the oceanic and coastal domains and improve their management and governance.

The first steps in developing the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network will be to connect to key players related to ocean sustainability from academic and stakeholder communities, to define the key issues where sustainability research can help support a healthy ocean and coastal regions. Agreed societally pressing issues with associated researchable questions will then be prioritised for globally coordinated interdisciplinary research towards co-designed synthesis and knowledge products.

For questions about this network or to get involved, contact Craig Starger at craig.starger@futureearth.org

All are encouraged to connect with the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network Community on the Open Network.

See a list of relevant activities and upcoming and past events

See a list of Development Team members

See members of the Sponsor Group

Outreach material


Future of the Oceans and its Seas: a non-governmental scientific perspective on seven marine research issues of G7 interest

Ocean Action Hub