Date: 05/20/2011 Description: Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) logo. © UN Image

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), established in 1960, is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) program that “promotes international cooperation and coordinates programs in marine research, services, observation systems, hazard mitigation and capacity development in order to learn more and better manage the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas. Through the application of this knowledge the IOC aims to improve management practices and the decision-making process of its Member States, foster sustainable development and protect the marine environment. In addition, the IOC strives to further develop ocean governance, which necessitates strengthening the institutional capacity of Member States in marine scientific research and ocean management.”

In 2006, the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO established the U.S. National Committee for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission to advise the National Commission on issues related to IOC. Functions of this Committee include:

  • Making recommendations on U.S. participation in IOC and assisting upon request in the formulation and review of other UNESCO international oceans activities;
  • Providing advice on domestic and international activities relevant to UNESCO programs that advance research, education, or training in ocean sciences or the application of ocean sciences to specific societal problems;
  • Recommending U.S. programs for collaboration with IOC; and
  • Providing advice related to governmental or non-governmental organizations involved in U.S. participation in UNESCO international oceans activities.
  • The Committee's bylaws can be found here http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/194646.pdf.

The Committee is comprised of members of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and representatives of non-governmental organizations with expertise in ocean sciences:

American Association of Engineering Societies (LTG Henry J. Hatch, U.S. Army, Ret.)
American Geophysical Union (Dr. Rana Fine)
American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (Dr. John Downing)

Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (Dr. Christopher D’Elia)
Consortium for Ocean Leadership (Dr. Timothy Cowles)
Geological Society of America (Dr. Walter Mooney)
Marine Technology Society (Dr. Andrew M. Clark)
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (Dr. Peter Brewer)
National Academies-Ocean Studies Board (Dr. Susan Roberts)

National Federation of Regional Associations for Coastal and Ocean Observing (Dr. Scott Glenn)
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (Mr. James Connaughton)
Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Dr. Dean Roemmich)
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Dr. Susan Avery)

Committee members serve terms of 3 years, with the responsibility for chairing the Committee rotated among its members. The Committee meets in person every Spring, and works via correspondence throughout the year as necessary. Most recently, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of IOC, members of the Committee produced a special issue of Oceanography magazine (September 2010, Vol 23, No 3) that describes both the past accomplishments and future goals of IOC.

For additional information on the Committee, please contact Ms. Elizabeth Tirpak, National Committee Executive Secretary or Dr. Susan Avery, Chair.