Underwater archaeologists and marine scientists cooperate to advance the UN Decade of Ocean Sciences

The experts of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB) to the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) met online on 26 November 2020 to discuss the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

“The United Nations Decade for Ocean Sciences has the mission of establishing a vision of science for the oceans we desire. Yet, it is not only about ocean sciences, but also about human and social sciences, of which archaeology is a part”, said Mr Ariel Troisi, Chairperson of the IOC. In presenting the objectives of the Decade as well the recently released Implementation Plan developed by IOC as the coordinating body of the Decade, he identified many areas where both marine scientists and underwater archaeologists could work together to achieve the Decade’s objectives. Mr Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of IOC, underlined the interdependence of marine science and marine archaeology, and reaffirmed the need for underwater archaeologists and marine scientists to work together to successfully implement the Decade.

“This encounter shows the potential of underwater archaeology to better understand the oceans and their past, and its importance for ocean sustainability”, said Professor Toufik Hamoum, Chairperson of the STAB. He expressed his deep appreciation of the enthusiasm showed by STAB experts and the IOC to work together in the implementation of the Decade.

In view of the links between the Decade and the 2001 Convention, STAB experts agreed to work together in the development of a strategic framework identifying priority actions for the underwater cultural heritage community, which can inspire and stimulate ‘Decade Actions’, particularly among the States Parties to the 2001 Convention, which number 66. A first ‘Call for Decade Actions’ was launched on 15 October 2020 inviting actors working on oceans to propose transformative large scale programmes that contribute to the Ocean Decade vision.