Skip to main content

European Marine Board participates in 2024 Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona

The European Marine Board (EMB) is actively supporting the ongoing efforts of the Ocean Decade to advance ocean science and sustainability, as evidenced by its presence at the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference and satellite events held in Barcelona from 8 to 12 April 2024. EMB Executive Director Sheila Heymans, and Science Officers Britt Alexander and Ángel Muñiz Piniella, participated in the conference and in multiple satellite events, emphasising the importance of global cooperation for ocean science.

The 2024 Ocean Decade Conference, which commenced with several satellite events on 8 and 9 April, featured a diverse range of discussions and workshops aimed at fostering collaboration and innovation in ocean science and policy. EMB participated in various satellite events throughout the conference and presented two posters, one on the artist-in-residence programme ‘EMBracing the Ocean’ (available here) and the other on the main message of the upcoming flagship publication ‘Navigating the Future VI’ (available here).

On 8 April, the EMB team participated in several events, including an ocean communications symposium and events focusing on topics such as sustainable coastal development, the role of gender equality in ocean science and the use of art for environmental advocacy, underscoring the multifaceted approach required for sustainable interactions with the Ocean and increased awareness.

On 9 April, EMB continued its active involvement in discussions on linking science, policy, and stakeholders. EMB Executive Director Sheila Heymans presented introductory remarks during the event ‘Digital Twins of the Ocean & Early Career Ocean Professionals. Leveraging Ocean Data Networks with Cloud Technologies To Deliver the Ocean We Want, Today & Tomorrow’, and together with Science Officer Britt Alexander participated in the event ‘Shaping IPOS: Southern perspectives on optimizing the ocean science-policy interface’. Throughout the day, many events highlighted the necessity of inclusive and collaborative approaches in achieving sustainable ocean management.

As the main conference program unfolded from 10 to 12 April, EMB representatives participated in various plenary sessions and satellite events addressing critical issues such as indigenous knowledge, marine ecosystem modelling, and the conservation of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. The EMB team's contributions extended to sessions on ocean observing systems, coastal resilience, and the role of international organisations in advancing ocean science objectives.

EMB was the main organiser of the event ‘Supporting a global collective vision for ocean science by matching regional priorities’, where for the first time since the start of the Ocean Decade, different regional ocean science organisations and initiatives (European Marine Board, IOCAFRICA, IOC-WESTPAC, IOCARIBE, IOCINDIO, and the Southern and Arctic Ocean Task Forces) presented their ocean science priorities for the end of the decade. The discussion focused on matching, comparing and finding synergies between these priorities with the Ocean Decade Vision 2030 and finding avenues for future regional collaboration to deliver this vision. The event was moderated by EMB Executive Director Sheila Heymans, and had the following interventions:

  • IOCAFRICA - Edwin Mwashinga, Program Associate, UNESCO/IOC Sub Commission for Africa and the Adjacent Island States
  • IOC WESTPAC - Aileen Tan Shau Hwai, First Vice Chairperson, UNESCO/IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific & CEMACS, Malaysia
  • IOCARIBE - John Cortinas , Vice Chair, UNESCO/IOC Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions & NOAA, USA
  • IOC INDIO - Justin Ahahanzo, UNESCO/IOC Regional Liaison Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific and Africa
  • Southern Ocean Task Force - Anton Van de Putte, SCAR Standing Committee on Antarctic Data Management & University Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Arctic Ocean Task Force – Heidi Kassens, Chair of Marine Working Group, International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) & GEOMAR, Germany
  • European Marine Board – Gilles Lericolais, Chair, European Marine Board & Ifremer, France


The report from the event is now available here.

Of particular significance was the launch of the new Blue Paper from the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy entitled ‘How can a healthy ocean improve human health and enhance wellbeing on a rapidly changing planet?’, in which EMB Executive Director Sheila Heymans contributed as Lead Author. Sheila also moderated a side event on 'Empowering Women for the Ocean Decade: Achieving Gender Equality in Ocean Sciences and Policy Making'.

Throughout the event, EMB reaffirmed its commitment to promoting interdisciplinary collaboration, technological innovation, and inclusive governance frameworks for the sustainable management of marine resources. By actively engaging in discussions and initiatives at the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference, EMB continues to play a vital role in shaping the future of ocean science and conservation on a global scale.

Find out how EMB supports the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development here.