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Launching Norway’s Plan for the UN’s “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development”

NUPI’s Centre for Ocean Governance is ready to step up to challenge. 
Bildet viser Luciakammen på Svalbard
Foto: Allan Hopkins/Creative Commons/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Foto: Allan Hopkins/Creative Commons/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The turn of the 2021 marks the beginning of what the UN Assembly declared as the “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development”. Aiming to stimulate and coordinate national and global research, the initiative forms part of global efforts to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

The Decade is designed to facilitate global communication and learning across research and stakeholder communities in order to address the multifaceted challenges involved managing Ocean spaces and resources.

Research Council of Norway’s Plans

Aiming to orchestrate Norway’s contribution to the Decade, the Research Council of Norway (RCN) is now initiating a new ocean-focused research agenda for the coming decade. The RCN’s ocean secretariat established an expert group in 2020 to determine the areas where Norway could most effectively contribute.

The Research Council Norway’s published its ocean priorities in October 2020.

NUPI’s Contribution

NUPI’s Elana Wilson Rowe, Arctic Expert and Research Professor, was a member of the RCN’s expert group that co-authored the RCN report. According to Wilson Rowe, ocean research will be crucial in the years ahead and NUPI’s Centre for Ocean Governance (CoG) is well-placed to contribute:

‘We face important ocean governance challenges and the ocean can also contribute to meeting many of the global sustainable development goals. The report details several ways that Norwegian research milieus can help realize the goals of the Ocean Decade. To make sure that this knowledge reaches and informs ongoing policy processes, we also need to improve and innovate on the science-policy interface for Arctic Ocean and broader ocean governance. Arctic governance and expert knowledge in global governance have been core research priority for the Centre of Ocean Governance and we are looking forward to applying our existing expertise and generating new projects in support of the Ocean Decade.'

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Norway’s Ocean Priorities

Published in October 2020, the RCN report outlines ten priority areas for Norwegian ocean research:

  1. Interaction between climate and environment
  2. Holistic ocean governance
  3. Healthy and safe seafood for everyone
  4. Renewable energy from the ocean
  5. Environmentally friendly maritime transport
  6. An ocean of data
  7. Who will own the ocean?
  8. Keeping the Artic as one
  9. Global ocean economy and aid
  10. Everyone understands the Ocean

The report’s proposals will guide the Council in prioritization of research efforts and aims to facilitate coordination among other national organizations – NGOs, ministries, business and industry – that are interested in the ocean. 

As the expert group’s leader Peter Haugan explained, the priorities reflect a mix of “areas that are extra important for Norway and those where Norwegian expertise can be of great importance internationally”. Haugan also emphasized that the goal of the Decade is explicitly practical: to “find solutions, not just describe problems”. Thus, Haugan hopes that “the Decade can make a big difference, not only for the sea, but for the world as a whole. For the world as a whole needs a well-functioning sea”.


  • Foreign policy
  • The Arctic
  • Climate
  • Energy
  • Oceans
  • Governance