EAF-Nansen Programme

EAF-Nansen Programme enters UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development


On World Ocean’s Day, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission launches flagship Decade Actions. More than 60 programmes and contributions have been endorsed under the “Ocean Decade,” following a milestone launch of the First International Ocean Decade Conference that took place on 1 June.  

We are pleased to announce that as of today, the EAF-Nansen Programme becomes part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) – an UN-wide initiative that provides a common framework for international dialogue and global action in order to ensure that ocean science can fully support nations to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. 

The EAF-Nansen Programme, building on lessons learned since 1975, collaborates today with 32 partner countries in Africa and southeast Asia. The Programme  assists the countries to sustainably manage their fisheries, and to provide knowledge on marine resources and ecosystems to improve food security, considering pollution and climate change impacts. We are glad to see the EAF-Nansen Programme as one of the key contributors to the UN Ocean Decade, supporting its mission to ensure that ocean science can fully assist countries to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by the 2030 deadline, said FAO’s Merete Tandstad, EAF-Nansen Programme Coordinator.

The EAF-Nansen programme is a partnership between Norway and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), building on more than 45 years of mutual trust, collaboration and experience. 

I am delighted to learn that the EAF-Nansen Programme has been recognized under the UN Ocean Decade initiative, commented Bård Vegar Solhjell, Direct of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). Norway and Norad have proudly supported the Programme for more than 45 years. The Programme’s crucial efforts to improve scientific knowledge of the ocean aim to end hunger and poverty and contribute to a sustainable use of marine resources. Sustainable management of fish stocks can provide more nutritious food from the ocean, thus it is vital that we continue to support the partner countries, Mr Solhjell added. 

The EAF-Nansen Programme’s objectives are fully aligned with the core objective of the Ocean Decade, which is to improve the scientific knowledge through capacity developments in regions that are limited in capacity and capability. The Programme works to enhance the capacity of the coastal countries, by implementing an ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) management and conducting marine and fisheries research, contributing to improved scientific knowledge on the Ocean. One example of the Programme’s contribution are scientific missions taking place on board the research vessel, the Dr Fridtjof Nansen. The vessel, owned by Norad, is an integral part of the Programme and the only marine research vessel to fly the UN flag. A new Dr Fridtjof Nansen started operating in 2017, and since then scientists from the Programme partner countries have been collecting valuable data and information on marine ecosystems, including on fishery resources, biodiversity, climate change and pollution impacts during research surveys carried out in African, southeast Asian waters, and the high-seas. 

Cooperation is key to success in the Ocean Decade. While efforts have to be coordinated internationally, they need be applied at national, regional and local levels. The Decade offers an opportunity for the EAF-Nansen Programme to join forces at a global scale to generate knowledge for the benefit of society in the long-term:  

The UN Ocean Decade presents a great opportunity for the Programme to engage with other initiatives and work together towards meeting global ocean targets for sustainable development by 2030, said Ms Tandstad. 

Through all its activities, the EAF-Nansen Programme contributes to achieving the UN SDGs that call for the need to end poverty and hunger, reduce inequalities or tackle climate change, among other targets. 

Of special interest for the EAF-Nansen Programme are the targets of SDG14: Life below water, for which “ocean science must be the foundation upon which the achievement of SDG14 is built,” as emphasized by Peter Thomson, UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, during the High-Level Launch of the Ocean Decade. A healthy and productive ocean is critical to meet all the 17 goals of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Mobilizing efforts towards increasing scientific knowledge to improve the ocean’s health under the Ocean Decade is thus an important milestone ahead of the upcoming UN Ocean Conference, scheduled for June 2022 in Lisbon.  

Increased gender equity in ocean science is also high on the Ocean Decade agenda and one of the prerequisites to reach SDG5 by the 2030 deadline. The EAF-Nansen Programme is actively promoting this aspect across all its activities. Throughout the Decade, the Programme will elevate an important role of women at decision-making and management level to advance gender equity. 

World Oceans Day is a special occasion to remind humanity about the benefits the Ocean is providing us with, but also individual and collective responsibility we all have to protect it and use its resources in a sustainable way. The UN Ocean Decade presents a great opportunity to work together towards turning the tide on the ocean with the use of science and by making SDG targets become a reality. 

“Preserving and restoring the ocean’s ability to nurture humanity and regulate the climate will be the defining challenges of this decade. These challenges should be top priorities for everyone, everywhere,” stated António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, during the High-Level Launch of the Ocean Decade. 



More information:

World Oceans Day: Key achievements and lessons learned by the EAF-Nansen Programme

The EAF-Nansen Programme Science Plan 

Fishery and oceanographic research vessel the R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen

The new Nansen research vessel sets sail