OBIS Governance

After the successful decade-long Census of Marine Life project, for which OBIS was the data and information dissemination component, OBIS found a new home when in June 2009, the Member States of IOC-UNESCO adopted OBIS as part of its IODE programme. The IOC-UNESCO Member States had repeatedly identified the need to acquire biogeographic data for ocean and coastal resource management and agreed that knowledge of the ocean’s biodiversity is of such importance to national and global environmental issues that the responsibility for OBIS’ continuing success should be assumed by governments. The information below provides information on how OBIS fits into the mandates from the United Nations, UNESCO and IOC, and provide links to the decisions and recommendations and the workplan which are developed as part of the OBIS steering group and IODE.

OBIS in the United Nations

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recognizes OBIS for its contribution to Marine Scientific Research:

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

OBIS is part of IOC’s Medium-Term Strategy 2014-2021 adopted by IOC Resolution XXVII-2 and UNESCO resolutions 37 C/5.21 and 38 C/5.17.

OBIS contributes to UNESCO’s 5th strategic objective and 3rd main line of action: Promoting international scientific cooperation on critical challenges to sustainable development, and specfically part (ii) promote the generation and sharing of knowledge in relation to natural resources, and capacity building through international scientific collaboration for the protection and sustainable management of the ocean and coasts, terrestrial ecosystems, biodiversity, freshwater security and the rational management of the Earth’s geological resources. Implementation will include, inter alia, the coordination of monitoring activities, the production of scientific assessments, catalyzing international collaborative projects, capacity-building, and the designation of site-specific examples of sustainable development. UNESCO’s Main line of action 3 is about Promoting knowledge and capacity for protecting and sustainably managing the ocean and coasts through:

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO was created in 1960 to promote international cooperation and to coordinate programmes in research, services and capacity building, in order to generate knowledge about the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas; and to apply that knowledge for the improvement of management, sustainable development, the protection of the marine environment, and the decision-making processes of its Member States. It is at the heart of IOC’s vision that scientific understanding and systematic observations of the ocean should underpin sustainable development and global governance for a healthy ocean.

IOC is a competent international organization under the UN Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS) for Marine Scientific Research (MSR) under Part XIII (UNCLOS annex 8, article 2), Capacity Development (CD) and Transfer of Marine Technology (TMT) under Part XIV. This is also reflected in the functions of IOC, defined in the IOC Statutes adopted by IOC Resolution XX.1.

The recommendations from IODE are submitted to the IOC Assembly for adoption.

IOC Resolutions related to OBIS:

International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE)

OBIS is a project of the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme. IODE, established in 1961, enhances marine research, exploitation and development by facilitating the exchange of oceanographic data and information between participating Member States and by meeting the needs of users for data and information products.

The objectives of IODE are:

IODE Recommendations related to OBIS:

IODE Steering Group for OBIS (SG-OBIS)

The SG-OBIS has an advising role to the IODE Committee on OBIS’s vision and mission, and its strategy for sustainability and further development (including assisting with seeking funding). The SG-OBIS prepares, for submission to the IODE committee, OBIS’ workplan, reviews progress and guides and identifies any technical or scientific issues as relevant to the implementation of the work plan. The SG-OBIS has established several Task Teams to share responsibilities between members of the OBIS community. The SG-OBIS is composed of the managers of the OBIS nodes and tries to meet once per year.

SG-OBIS recommendations and decisions:

OBIS Executive Committee (OBIS-EC)

The OBIS Executive Committee (OBIS-EC) was established at the 1st OBIS Steering group meeting in 2011. At the 5th OBIS Steering Group meeting in 2016, the SG-OBIS decided that the chair of SG-OBIS is also the chair of the OBIS-EC and that the membership of the OBIS-EC is composed of the SG-OBIS chairs, the chairs of the OBIS Task Teams, the OBIS project manager and the OBIS data manager. The OBIS-EC is mainly responsible for follow-up of the workplan, the preparation of strategic decisions, the agenda of the SG-OBIS meetings, partnerships with other organizations, the development of OBIS sustainability and business plans.

See OBIS-EC Terms of Reference and Membership.

OBIS Task Teams

Several Task Teams are established to support the further develop of OBIS. The task teams prepare the topics for discussion and adoption at the OBIS Steering Group meetings and define the activities as part of the Work Plan. The members of the task team also take responsibilities for the execution of the Work Plan. The OBIS secretariat is an ex-officio member of all task teams.

OBIS has the following task teams:

OBIS Secretariat

The OBIS secretariat, hosted at the UNESCO/IOC project office for IODE in Oostende (Belgium), provides training and technical assistance to its data providers, guides new data standards and technical developments, and encourages international cooperation to foster the group benefits of the network. The OBIS project manager monitors the implementation, and reports on the progress with the implementation of the work plan, and organizes and implements sessions of the IODE Steering group for OBIS, any Task Team meetings and other relevant OBIS meetings. The project manager is also responsible for the smooth operation of the OBIS data portal, in close collaboration with the OBIS data manager and the OBIS technical task team.