The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has been one of UNEP's key partners in global scientific programmes for the marine environment and in many of the Regional Seas programmes for the last 30 years. Within the UN system, IOC alone has responsibility for basic oceanographic research.
The IOC focuses on four major themes:
- to develop, promote and facilitate international oceanographic research programmes to improve understanding of critical global and regional ocean processes and their relationship to the sustainable development and stewardship of ocean resources;
- to ensure effective planning, establishment and co-ordination of an operational global ocean observing system to provide the information needed for oceanic and atmospheric forecasting, for oceans and coastal zone management and for global environmental change research;
- to provide international education, training and technical programmes; and
- to ensure that ocean data and information obtained are widely available.
The IOC is currently in cooperation with MAP in the monitoring of eutrophication and the implementation in the Mediterranean of the Global Ocean Observing System (MedGOOS/MAMA project).
The SAS region also participates in GOOS and is currently setting up the Indian Ocean Global Observation System (IO-GOOS). In addition the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) was established in 1989 as a successive organization of the Regional Committee, with its main task to develop and co-ordinate regional marine scientific research programmes and ocean observations based on priority interests of the NOWPAP Member States.
The NEAR-GOOS pilot project was formulated in order to promote cooperation in ocean observations and data sharing among the NOWPAP region.