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UNESCO Platform Vlaanderen vzw
International
Oceanographic
Data and Information
Exchange
United Nations
Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization
10
YEARS
UNESCO / IOC PROJECT OFFICE
FOR IODE IN OSTEND
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION 5
ABOUT THE IOC PROJECT OFFICE FOR IODE 7
IOC AND ITS IODE 8 - 9
COASTAL ATLASES10 - 11
THE IODE OCEAN DATA PORTAL12 - 13
MARINE INFORMATION MANAGEMENT14 - 15
OCEAN BIOGEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM16 - 17
UNESCO Platform Vlaanderen vzw
HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOM INFORMATION SYSTEM18 - 19
United Nations
Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization
OCEAN TEACHER GLOBAL ACADEMY 20 - 21 - 22
This brochure was compiled at the initiative of UNESCO Platform Vlaanderen: a non-governmental organisation
that offers news and background on UNESCO’s programmes and how Flanders contributes to them.
UNESCO Platform Vlaanderen vzw
Farasijnstraat 32, 8670 Koksijde
T/F +32 (0)58 51 44 79
www.unesco-vlaanderen.be
https://twitter.com/unescovl
https://www.facebook.com/UnescoPlatformVlaanderen
D/2015/9546/1
United Nations
Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization
Intergovernmental
Oceanographic
Commission
International
Oceanographic
Data and Information
Exchange
This project was implemented with support from the Flemish Government.
The Flemish Government cannot be held responsible for the content of this brochure.
TSUNAMI SEA LEVEL SERVICE 23
THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE FLEMISH GOVERNMENT TO IOC 24 - 25
INTRODUCTION
In 1999 the Flemish Government decided to engage in a formal
partnership with UNESCO in the field of natural sciences by the
creation of the Flanders-UNESCO Science Trust Fund (FUST).
FUST was created to support UNESCO’s scientific programmes
in a structured manner based on a number of commonly
identified priorities. An important part of the fund is dedicated
to the activities of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic
Commission (IOC) of UNESCO: the world’s premier body
for ocean research, services and capacity development
aiming to learn more 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 decisionmaking processes of its Member States. In 2005, the collaboration between Flanders and the IOC
intensified with the opening of the UNESCO/IOC Project
Office for IODE in Ostend, Belgium. This centre is primarily a
training centre where data and information managers, mainly
from developing countries, acquire the necessary knowledge and
skills to function in the international context of oceanography
data management and exchange, but the centre also organized
courses for starting ocean researchers so they can familiarize
themselves with the principles of data and information
management. It is also a meeting place for experts to develop
joint projects and discuss new technologies and applications.
This publication marks the occasion of the tenth anniversary of
the UNESCO/IOC Project Office for IODE in Ostend. The IODE
programme was established by the IOC in 1961 to promote
the international exchange of oceanographic data and
information. It encourages researchers and institutions to make
use of common standards that facilitate the exchange of data
and ensures that Member States acquire the necessary capacities
to function at the international level in the exchange of data and
information and to conduct research. On the following pages
you can read which services the IODE programme delivers to
the international marine scientific community.
Since 2012 the secretariat and data system of the Ocean
Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) is also housed at the
project office. Biodiversity data from over 500 institutes are
combined into a central database. With more than 40 million
distribution data of marine species OBIS contributes greatly to
the marine scientific research and is the reference database for
biodiversity evaluation and monitoring.
The project office also focuses on the development and
implementation of new technological applications in
the field of oceanographic data and information
management. This benefits different user
communities worldwide. The immediate
proximity of the Flanders Marine Institute
(VLIZ) and related institutions and
networks has been a key factor in
the success of the project office
because it allows to test new
technologies in an operational
environment. 
5
INTRO
(CONTINUATION)
As a knowledge centre the project office
is an important asset to the Flemish
marine science community to develop and
promote their knowledge and activities in an
international context.
Within the international community of ocean scientists nobody
needs to be convinced of the importance of the project office.
What has been achieved in Ostend over the past decade is so
valuable that the centre will soon generate spin-offs. In the
coming years training centres will be opened all over the
world following the example of the project office. These
centres will each focus on a specific region or language group.
Consequently more students will be trained and the knowledge
and training can be mutually shared. The project office will
oversee the collaboration of these regional training centres.
6
ABOUT THE IOC PROJECT OFFICE
FOR IODE
The IOC Project Office for IODE was inaugurated on 25 April
2005. This was made possibly through substantial financial and
in-kind support by the Government of Flanders and the Flanders
Marine Institute (VLIZ) respectively. With the opening of the
IOC Project Office for IODE the IODE programme entered a new
era of capacity building and ocean data/information services.
The main objectives of the Project Office are:
to establish a creative environment facilitating the further
development and maintenance of IODE and partner data and
information management projects, services and products
with emphasis on improving the efficiency and effectiveness
of the data and product/service stream between the stage of
sampling and the user; and
to assist in strengthening the capacity of Member States to
manage oceanographic data and information and to provide
ocean data and information products and services required
by users.
TO ACHIEVE THESE OBJECTIVES THE IOC PROJECT
OFFICE CARRIES OUT THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES:
develop, strengthen and maintain IOC/IODE ocean data
and information management training programmes and
training tools;
provide an environment (‘think tank’) where ocean data and
information experts and students can work, meet and discuss;
develop, host and maintain IOC/IODE’s ocean information
systems and related public awareness tools;
promote collaboration between all expert levels active in
ocean data (and data product) and information management,
including scientists, data managers, other IOC (and JCOMM
or WMO) programmes and projects and other users;
provide a laboratory environment for the development and
beta testing of ocean data and information management
technology.
While the Office was initially just a “satellite” office of the IOC Secretariat based at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, all IODE
Secretariat functions were transferred to Ostend in August 2007. Staffing started with just one in 2005 which grew to 4 by 2008 and
by the end of 2015 staff numbers will have increased to 10.
Since 2005 nearly 1 500 students from 120 countries attended courses in Ostend.
7
IOC AND ITS IODE
The IODE community can be considered as a family of
communities of practice that share expertise and experience.
Due to the highly technical nature of oceanographic data and
information management IODE includes quite a variety of small
communities that each deal with specific technical aspects.
Initially the IODE community was a fairly closed community that
did not have many interactions with end users. This has changed
around the year 2000 at a time when data centres started
providing online services through the World Wide Web. Data
centres and libraries could now provide data and information
directly to end-users. This led to the development of a wide
variety of online services provided by the IODE community but
also by the IODE Secretariat.
The IODE (International Oceanographic Data and
Information Exchange) programme was established in 1961
and is the oldest programme of the IOC. It was established,
as was IOC, as a follow-up to the International Geophysical
year (July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958).
8
WWW.IODE.ORG
During the Intergovernmental Conference on Oceanographic
Research in 1960 at which the setting up of an Intergovernmental
Oceanographic Commission was recommended, certain initial tasks
for the new Commission were outlined and amongst these was
included the requirement for a structure to co-ordinate international
oceanographic data exchange. This structure was initially a Working
Group, which in 1987, became the “Committee on Oceanographic
Data and Information Exchange” (IODE). The Committee members
are officially designated officials of the participating member
states. In practice these are mostly the Directors of the National
Oceanographic Data Centres: since its establishment in 1961 the
IODE programme has developed a global network of 80 National
Oceanographic Data Centres (NODCs). These are officially
designated centres that take responsibility for the national and
international tasks of the IODE Programme. In addition, since 2013,
national projects, programmes, institutions or organizations (other
than NODCs), or regional or international projects, programmes,
institutions or organizations that carry out data management
functions can also join IODE as IODE Associate Data Units (ADUs).
By October 2015, 20 such Units have been added to the network
with many more expected to join in the near future.
International
Oceanographic
Data and Information
Exchange
Within IOC the role of IODE has evolved as well: from a technical
and closed community programme, IODE has evolved into a
programme that provides services to other IOC programmes. In
the next chapters we will illustrate a number of IODE projects
that provide such services.
9
THE MAIN OBJECTIVES OF THE IODE PROGRAMME (revision IODE-XXII, March 2013)
To facilitate and promote the discovery, exchange of, and access to, marine data and information including
metadata, products and information in real-time, near real time and delayed mode, through the use of
international standards, and in compliance with the IOC Oceanographic Data Exchange Policy for the ocean
research and observation community and other stakeholders;
To encourage the long term archival, preservation, documentation, management and services of all
marine data, data products, and information;
To develop or use existing best practices for the discovery, management, exchange of, and
access to marine data and information, including international standards, quality control
and appropriate information technology;
To assist Member States to acquire the necessary capacity to manage marine research
and observation data and information and become partners in the IODE network;
The IODE programme
To support international scientific and operational marine programmes,
has developed a global
including the Framework for Ocean Observing for the benefit of a wide
network of more than
range of users.
100 Oceanographic Data Centres.
COASTAL ATLASES
The International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN) is a community
of practice of organizations that have been meeting since 2006
to scope and implement data interoperability approaches to
coastal web atlases (CWAs). ICAN is the global reference for the
development of CWAs and defines these as “collections of digital
maps and datasets with supplementary tables, illustrations
and information that systematically illustrate the coast for the
purposes of coastal management and planning, oftentimes
with cartographic and decision support tools, all of which are
accessible via the Internet.”.
In 2013, ICAN became an IODE project. The strategic goal of
the IODE ICAN project is to encourage and help facilitate the
development of digital atlases of the global coast, based on the
principle of distributed, high-quality data and information, at
local, regional, national or international scale.
The project aims to achieve this:
Through organizing a cooperative interoperability network
for the integration of locally-maintained CWAs as the
premier source of spatial information about coastal zones
throughout the world,
By supporting the ICAN community of practise to share
experiences and to find common solutions to CWA development
through developing user and developer guides, handbooks
and articles on best practices, information on standards and
web services, expertise and technical support directories,
education, outreach, and funding opportunities and
By intending maximum relevance and added value for the
end users of CWAs.
ICAN’s more than 70 members represent governmental, academic, NGO and private organizations from around
the world and ICAN CWAs raise awareness about coastal and marine topics and provide relevant information
to shape national and regional decision and policy making across several themes, such as:
Marine spatial planning
Climate change impacts, coastal vulnerability
Coastal governance (boundaries, protected areas, etc.)
Coastal conservation and protected areas management
Coastal hazards monitoring and planning
Coastal disaster management and mitigation
Population pressures
Resource availability and extraction
10
11
HTTP://ICAN.IODE.ORG
ICAN develops community-held constraints on
mapping and data distribution conventions to
maximize the comparability and reliability of
information about our coasts. This is done to
provide a basis for rationally informed discussion,
debate and negotiation of sustainable management
policies for our societies, nations and people
throughout the world, which has tremendous
potential to be relevant for coastal management,
global spatial data infrastructures, marine spatial
planning and related projects around the world.
THE IODE OCEAN
DATA PORTAL
THE MANDATE OF THE OCEAN DATA PORTAL IS FOUR-FOLD:
 Provide a technical environment enabling seamless access to marine data and information products
Support providers of marine data and information products
Support users of the ODP technical environment
Support and foster capacity building within the global marine community
Web-based technology and services are evolving rapidly and the IODE ODP is not the
only oceanographic data portal. Today there are hundreds of portals; some very small,
others very large. Therefore one of the main objectives of the IODE ODP is to provide
interoperability between portals including: World Meteorological Organization
Information System (WMO/WIS), SeaDataNet, World Data System (WDS),
GEOSS/EuroGOOS, Ocean Data Interoperability Platform (ODIP), EMODNET,
Research Data Alliance (RDA), etc.
12
The IODE Ocean Data Portal seeks to provide seamless
access to inventories of marine data and information
products hosted by National Oceanographic Data
Centres (NODCs), regional and national institutes,
and collaborating organizations and systems.
WWW.OCEANDATAPORTAL.NET
In order to assist with the development of the IODE Ocean Data
Portal the Russian Federation established the “Ocean Data Portal
Partnership Centre” in September 2013 in Obninsk, Russian
Federation. It provides dedicated software development
support for ODP software components, implementation
support to ODP data providers, and e-mail support to
ODP users. The partnership centre also supports
data providers by assisting them with preparing
data and metadata for ingestion/access via
specialized or global ODP nodes. It also
supports education and capacity
building through the delivery of
on-site training courses and
on-line modules through the
OceanTeacher Academy.
13
MARINE INFORMATION
MANAGEMENT
In addition to oceanographic data management and exchange,
IODE also deals with marine information management and its
related work of marine librarians. As scientific publications are a
core output of scientific research the management of this output
is of crucial importance to the evolution of science.
The ability to discover and access scientific
publications is essential for all researchers.
14
Unfortunately their cost is often a considerable hurdle, especially
to researchers in developing countries. Mechanisms that allow
the sharing of marine information are therefore as important as
those for sharing data. IODE has been active in developing such
mechanisms.
Since 1984 the IODE Group of Experts on Marine Information
Management has advised the IODE Committee on marine
information systems. This includes bibliographic databases
(focusing on grey literature: academic literature that is not
formally published) such as OceanDocs, participation in the
Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), a clearing
house for reference documents (OceanDataPractices),
the development of a global directory of marine and
freshwater professionals (OceanExpert), promoting the
availability of research publications to developing countries
(OpenScienceDirectory). Other activities include providing
services that bring data and information together such as data
citation and the new project OceanKnowledge, and including
literature links in coastal atlases.
Capacity development related to the
management and sharing of marine
information has been an important an
ongoing activity of IODE.
WWW.OCEANDOCS.NET WWW.OCEANDATAPRACTICES.NET
WWW.OCEANEXPERT.NET
WWW.OPENSCIENCEDIRECTORY.NET
15
OCEAN BIOGEOGRAPHIC
INFORMATION SYSTEM
The importance of species diversity for marine ecosystem
functioning is well known. It is therefore important to know
which species live where, why, in what abundance,
and how these factors are changing through time.
The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), the world’s
largest open access, online data system holds over 40 million
distribution records of nearly 120000 marine species (with
over 1 million records added per year since 1990) and provides
an important baseline for marine biodiversity monitoring and
assessment.
16
WHERE ARE THE MOST
THREATENED SPECIES?
WWW.IOBIS.ORG
According to the Red List of threatened species of the International
Union for Conservation of Nature, 17% of marine species assessed
are considered to be threatened with extinction and 20 marine
species are extinct. Plotting the numbers in OBIS shows the areas
of greatest importance to threatened species. These include
the Caribbean and Atlantic Coast of the USA, waters between
Eastern Africa and Madagascar, and the Indo-Pacific. However,
considering how little we know of rare species, true rates of threat
in marine species may be substantially higher, and spatially more
distributed, than current estimates suggest. In addition, OBIS lists
almost 500 species that have more than 10 observations but have
not been recorded at all in the last 50 years.
CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON
SPECIES DISTRIBUTIONS?
The quantification of the effect of climate change on the spatial distribution of
species is important within the scope of biodiversity conservation and to understand
and predict ecological and economic impacts. The response of species to the changing
environment depends on their ability to adapt. Species will move (range shifts), acclimatise
(phenology), adapt (evolution), or get extinct.
A recent study published in Nature Climate change, used data from OBIS, and predicted that by
2100, 44 North Pacific fish species may enter the North Atlantic, and 41 species the other way round,
via the future Arctic passages. This exchange of species between the two ocean basins has not happened
since the Quaternary (2.5 million years ago), and can have major ecologic and economic consequences.
Indeed, several papers have provided convincing evidence that
climate change has already impacted natural systems today,
with major poleward shifts of species, often greater than those
for terrestrial systems.
NUMBER OF SPECIES
OBSERVATIONS IN OBIS
© Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University
OBIS is built and maintained by a global alliance of 20 OBIS
nodes around the world that connect 500 institutions from 56
countries. Collectively they have provided over 1800 databases,
which are all integrated in a single central OBIS database, so
users can search and map all the data seamlessly by species
name, higher taxonomic level, geographic area, depth, time and
environmental parameters.
OBIS contributes to ocean science. So far 1000 scientific
publications have cited OBIS and/or used data from OBIS, and
this list is increasing by some 100 papers per year. In terms of
capacity development, OBIS provides training and technical
assistance, guides new standards and technical developments
and encourages international collaboration to foster the group
benefits of its global network of partners. Training courses on
biodiversity data management are held every year, through
the OceanTeacher platform. OBIS is an important knowledge
provider for international processes, such as the identification
of ecologically or biologically significant areas of the Convention
on Biological Diversity, and is a key source of information
for several global assessments, such as the UN World Ocean
17
1-5
<10
100
500
1000
5000
10000
50000
100000+
Assessment. OBIS collaborates with the new Biodiversity
and Ecosystems Panel of the Global Ocean Observing System
(GOOS) and the Biodiversity Observation Network of the Group
on Earth Observations to establish a coordinated framework for
sustained global biodiversity monitoring.
OBIS emanates from the Census of Marine Life (2000-2010) and
was adopted by IOC at its 25th session in 2009 and accepted as a
project of IODE in 2011.
HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOM
INFORMATION SYSTEM
The IOC-ICES-PICES Harmful Algal event (HAEDAT) is a
meta-database developed jointly between IODE and the IOC
HAB Programme, containing records of harmful algal events.
HAEDAT contains records from the ICES area (North Atlantic)
since 1985, from the PICES area (North Pacific) since 2000, and
from a number of individual countries. IOC regional networks in
South America, the Caribbean, South Pacific and North Africa
are preparing to contribute.
18
Occurrences of the phenomena referred to
as harmful algal blooms (HABs), represent
a significant and seemingly expanding threat
to human health, fishery resources, aquaculture,
tourism and marine ecosystems throughout
the world.
WWW.IODE.ORG/HAEDAT
HAEDAT has a comprehensive data field design. It does not
contain complete datasets, time series or primary data, but
summarized data that describes what in a given national
monitoring system was registered as a harmful algal related
event or impact.
A HARMFUL ALGAL EVENT IS DEFINED AS:
biotoxin accumulation in seafood above levels considered
safe for human consumption
a water discoloration, scum or foam causing a socioeconomic impact due to the presence of toxic or harmful
microalgae
any event where humans, animals or other organisms are
negatively affected by algae
Metadata includes information on methods used to collect data,
and information on which institution holds input data and full
data sets.
HAEDAT allows users to browse on-line in all events by country,
syndrome, affected resource etc. In many cases HAEDAT is the
only publically accessible source of information on HAB events.
HAEDAT will, together with HAB data in OBIS, IOC’s Taxonomic
Reference List of Harmful Micro Algae (WoRMS/HAB), and other
data sources, provide the basis for an IOC UNESCO ‘Global
Harmful Algal Bloom Status Report’ (GHSR), as decided by
the IOC Assembly. The GHSR will provide an overview of the
distribution of toxic algae and their impact on society and the
marine environment.
19
OCEAN TEACHER
GLOBAL ACADEMY
One of the major objectives of the IODE Programme is to assist Member States to acquire
the necessary skills to manage marine data and information and become full and equitable
partners in the IODE network. It is only when IOC Member States have acquired this
expertise at the national level that they can become active partners in IODE and thus
share their data and information with the other members of the IODE network.
20
WWW.OCEANTEACHER.ORG
The IOC of UNESCO, in partnership with the Global Ocean Forum,
made a voluntary Commitment at the Rio+20 (2012) conference
on ‘Building Global Capacity for Marine Sciences, Observation
and Transfer of Marine Technology’. This commitment targeted
the field of marine scientific research and ocean observation
especially in developing nations and Small Island Developing
States (SIDS), leading to the formulation and implementation of
a global strategy to implement solutions for their needs, through
partnership with countries, donors, UN Agencies, global financial
institutions and the private sector. Furthermore, in the document
”The future we want: Outcome of the United Nations Conference
on Sustainable Development Rio+20’ the [UN] Members States
“[...] recognize the importance of building the capacity of
developing countries to be able to benefit from the conservation
and sustainable use of the oceans and seas and their resources
and, in this regard, we emphasize the need for cooperation
in marine scientific research to implement the provisions of
the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the
outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development,
as well as for the transfer of technology, taking into account
the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and
Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology. (2012)”.
The training does not only teach the principles of data and
information management but also promotes the use of
international standards amongst all IODE centres and thus
achieving interoperability and data exchange.
The OTGA is now establishing a global network of Regional Training
Centres (RTCs) and will use this network to increase national
capacity in coastal and marine knowledge and management.
With the establishment of the IOC Project Office for IODE
in Oostende (Belgium) in 2005, a new era in IODE’s capacity
development unfolded. Since then, IODE developed a
consistent range of capacity development activities, which
benefited thousands of participants from over 120 countries
around the world. This culminated in the establishment of
the OceanTeacher project, which developed an online-based
Learning Platform, and serves all classroom training activities
of IODE as well as a growing number of training activities of
other IOC Programmes. This was achieved mostly with the
support of the Government of Flanders.
Promote the establishment, and assist with the start-up, of
(RTCs) that will plan, organize and implement training courses
that are of relevance and serve needs within their region;
Promote the use of local experts as lecturers and
training assistants by the Regional Training Centres;
Promote the collaboration between the (RTCs)
by enabling (through advanced information
technology) lecturers from multiple regions
to contribute lectures;
 Further develop the OceanTeacher
Learning Management System
to cover multiple IOC (and
associate) programmes. 
While the classroom based training combined with the
online training platform proved to be very successful the
training programme had certain limitations, mainly:
limited number of students could be trained;
courses were taught in English only;
it was not possible to focus on local needs.
The OceanTeacher Global Academy (OTGA) Project was
started in 2014 to address these limitations.
THE OTGA WILL:
21
OCEAN TEACHER
GLOBAL ACADEMY (CONTINUATION)
TOTAL PARTICIPANTS
TSUNAMI SEA LEVEL
STATION SERVICE
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN OF THE TRAINEES
300
250
The UNESCO IOC Sea Level Monitoring Facility is a webaccessible tool for viewing sea level data received in real
time from different network operators. This service of
IOC is freely available to all.
200
This service provides:
Information about the operational status of global and
regional networks of real time sea level station.
A display service for quick inspection of the raw data
stream from individual stations.
150
100
50
22
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
GENDER BALANCE
579
The OceanTeacher Global Academy builds upon and expands
the existing OceanTeacher Academy based at the IOC Project
Office for IODE in Oostende, Belgium, to a truly worldwide
training facility. This will lead to the following benefits:
Increase the annual number of trainees that can participate
in OceanTeacher Academy courses. Use mainly local experts
as lecturers and thus reduce the costs and other drawbacks of
long-distance traveling by trainers / lecturers and trainees.
Allow teaching in locally relevant languages.
Increase the focus on local issues while keeping
a global perspective.
Increase self-driven capacity development.
During 2014 a network of 10 RTC’s has been identified spanning
from America (Colombia, USA), Africa (Senegal, South Africa,
Mozambique, Kenya), Asia (India, China, Malaysia) and Europe
(Belgium). From 2015 onwards the RTCs will develop joint
780
training courses targeting national, regional and international
training needs in marine sciences in a coordinated way. It will do
so by providing a programme of training courses related to IOC
programmes covering topics related to, inter alia, IODE, IODE/
OBIS, IODE/ICAN, HAB, ICAM, GOOS, Tsunami, JCOMM, etc,
through the OceanTeacher Learning Platform.
Further to its role as a Regional Training Centre, the IODE Project
Office will continue its coordination role of the OTGA network
overall.
The site initially focused on operational monitoring
of sea level measuring stations in Africa and was
developed from collaboration between Flanders Marine
Institute (VLIZ) and the ODINAFRICA project of IODE. It has
been expanded to a global station monitoring service for real
time sea level measuring stations that are part of IOC programmes
i.e. the Global Sea Level Observing System Core Network and the
networks under the regional tsunami warning systems in the Indian Ocean
(IOTWS), North East Atlantic & Mediterranean (NEAMTWS), Pacific (PTWS)
and the Caribbean (CARIBE-EWS). As of September 2010, 89 organizations were
contributing data.
THIS IOC SEA LEVEL MONITORING FACILITY WEB SITE PROVIDES:
 Global sea level network map, showing color-coded operational status (working/not working),
Station listing, showing metadata (4-letter code, GLOSS ID number, Location, Collection
method, Last Data Transmission date/time, Delay, and Transmit Interval)
 Plotting and download of data received.
The OceanTeacher Global Academy will change training from
a ‘north to south’ culture to a north-south, south-south, and
south-north model and will substantially increase the impact of
the training activities.
WWW.IOC-SEALEVELMONITORING.ORG 
23
CONTRIBUTION OF THE FLEMISH
GOVERNMENT TO IOC
Flanders has a long history with the sea. The North Sea has always been its strong ally
and offered a gateway to the world. Navigation and trade brought prosperity to the Low
Countries for many centuries now and have made the Flemish coast one of the most active
centers of maritime activities and marine research in Europe.
It is precisely because the Flemish Community of Belgium has
been living such a long time next to the sea that it understands
its importance, both at a local as well as at a larger regional
and even the global scale. And it is for the same reason that
Flanders, despite its small coastline, is strongly committed to
help the international community in tackling ocean-related
global challenges.
24
Almost 65% of the world’s population now lives on or near
the coast, and in particular people in developing countries
heavily dependent on the sea for their food. Meanwhile,
the exponential increase of human activity is placing
mounting pressure on natural resources in coastal
areas and the deeper seas adjoining them. Very
few of those problems stop at the national
borders, which is the main reason why
the international community relies on
the involvement of international
organizations.
More than 15 years ago, the Flemish Government made a very
clear choice. In 1998, its Minister-president decided to engage
with UNESCO and support the capacity building of monitoring-,
collection- and analysis of ocean related data, to support the
training of experts in ocean management, and to provide the
knowledge and the instruments to understand our oceans
better. Although the size of the Flemish Community does not
allow for large scale investments in major research vessels or
scientific buoys, by supporting UNESCO’s Intergovernmental
Oceanographic Commission (IOC), they reaffirmed their social
commitment to coastal and marine environment.
Several multilateral organizations play a key role in ensuring a
sustainable future for our oceans’ natural resources, but the IOC is
the main international body responsible for coordinating the study
of seas and oceans and is - together with the European Union - the
privileged partner of the Flemish Government in this area.
The Flemish Government therefore endorsed in 1999 the
creation of the Flanders-UNESCO Trust Fund for Science
(FUST). This fund allows UNESCO and the Flemish Government
to guarantee a coherent approach in solving global scientific
challenges, with a specific attention to water related issues.
WWW.ODINAFRICA.ORG
WWW.SPINCAMNET.NET
What makes this fund so unique is that it allows UNESCO to
develop a sustainable long term perspective based on large
scale projects. Since its inception, Flanders has focused on a
limited area of cooperation, and has been very consistent in
doing so. All this time, UNESCO could rely on Flemish experts
from Flemish universities and research centres. This modality
turned out to be very beneficial for Flanders, too. It offers direct
access to international networks and guarantees an impact on a
much larger scale than would have been possible with bilateral
initiatives alone.
The combination of the input of Flemish
funding and UNESCO’s expertise often
leads to the involvement of other major
partners, which brings projects to a whole
new level.
To give an example, thanks to the Flemish Funds, UNESCO started
training the first African experts on ocean data management more
than ten years ago. In the meanwhile, those experts have started
training other statisticians, marine biologists, and other experts.
By ‘training the trainers, the FUST allowed for the creation of an
Ocean Data and Information Network, a network of centers of
excellence dealing with data collection and analysis all along the
African coast. These centers register sea-level and temperature
and can help predict abnormal weather patterns that could
potentially lead to floods or droughts. Moreover, they have created
an early warning system in case a tsunami threatens to hit the
coast and they provide a science based approach for a sustainable
management of coastal areas and the ocean’s resources. In short,
they have become an integral part of a worldwide network of data
centers and are nowadays largely self-sufficient.
In another joint project, the Flemish Government and UNESCO
have designed and established an integrated coastal area
management (ICAM) indicator framework at national and
regional level in the Southeast Pacific region of Latin America
(Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru). This project
focuses on the state of the coastal and marine environment
attending socio-economic conditions and diversity, to provide
stakeholders with information and atlases on the sustainability
of existing and future coastal management practices and
development (SPINCAM and Caribbean Marine Atlas
project). These projects have given excellent results so
far and have the potential to be linked to other large
scale projects in the area. Flemish experts have
contributed to a large extent to these results
by sharing institutional and individual best
practices. 
25
CONTRIBUTION OF THE FLEMISH
GOVERNMENT TO IOC (CONTINUATION)
Marine scientists know it already for a while,
but Ostend is much more than the “Queen
of Seaside Towns” in Belgium.
26
Ostend is also a hub for marine and ocean science, a center for
data management and a place where scientists from all over
the world work together in tracking tsunamis, monitoring the
impact of the climate change and keeping track of the changes in
biodiversity, just to name a few examples. The Flanders Marine
Institute (VLIZ) was established in Ostend in 1999 and has
rapidly evolved into the central coordination and information
platform for marine and coastal scientific research in Flanders.
As a partner in various projects and networks, VLIZ also
promotes and supports the international image of the Flemish
marine scientific research community and international marine
education.
The IOC Project Office for IODE is located in the same premises
as VLIZ and both centers collaborate intensively.
Today, Flanders is the second largest funding partner of IOC,
after Norway. By strengthening the medium-term strategies
of IOC, Flanders assumes its responsibility in tackling global
challenges and provides an answer to very concrete and relevant
needs of the Member States concerned.
WWW.PEGASOPROJECT.EU
WWW.CARIBBEANMARINEATLAS.NET
More and more, the Flemish Government and UNESCO find a
common ground with the European Union (EU) which relies more
than ever on the expertise of international organizations. The EU
has provided funding to projects in which both Flemish research
institutes and IOC have been working together on coastal and
marine areas. One successful example of such collaboration
is the PEGASO Project under the 7th Framework Programme
of the EU, where experts from the EU, UNESCO and Flanders
work together with policy makers, scientists and planners
to develop a range of new tools and approaches to achieve a
sustainable regional coastal planning and management around
the Mediterranean and the Black sea.
With the recent agreement between Flanders and UNESCO to
extend the support to UNESCO Science Sector through the FUST
for the next five years (2014-2018), the Flemish Government
has not only confirmed its commitment, but emphasized the
importance of the priority on water and of the Intergovernmental
Oceanographic Commission as the competent body for the
Oceans within the United Nations system.