19. December 2013

New priorities to address ocean acidification impacts

Experts meet in Monaco to draft global action plan

The first meeting of the Ocean Acidification international Reference User Group (OAiRUG)  took place from 2-4 December 2013 at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco. The OAiRUG is working with research projects on ocean acidification and with the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre to examine in detail the types of data, analyses and products that are most useful to managers, policy advisers, decision makers and politicians. It will also ensure optimal communication and distribution of these tools.

More than 30 experts and stakeholders drawn from eight countries with major ocean acidification programmes participated in the meeting, which was focused on science and policy landscapes. A way forward to effectively communicate ocean acidification to five different target audiences was identified and will be summarized in the “Monaco Action Plan”, to be released next year as a roadmap of the group’s future activities and to provide wider strategic guidance on actions needed to address this significant and urgent global issue.
The latest scientific findings, policy implications and the results of the OAiRUG discussions were presented to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco on 3 December. In a speech to the participants and guests, HSH Prince Albert II announced the creation of a Monegasque association on ocean acidification (Association Monégasque sur l’acidification des oceans; AMAO) to provide long-term coordination in Monaco and to further promote international activities on ocean acidification alongside existing efforts such as the OAiRUG and the OA-ICC.


Chaired by Professor Dan Laffoley (IUCN) and Dr John Baxter (Scottish Natural Heritage), the Ocean Acidification international Reference User Group (OA-iRUG) has been created as a forum to help convey scientific results on ocean acidification research programmes to non-scientific audiences and science end-users, in particular policy and decision makers. It also aims to highlight areas for further action to address impacts and consequences. The group draws on the experiences of the Reference User Group that supported the now completed European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA). The concept is simple but efficient: bringing together scientists and stakeholders from various backgrounds such as industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations, to allow networking and the presentation of key findings to interested non-scientific parties.
The EPOCA RUG enabled scientists to reach out to a different audience through a series of briefings and guides available in multiple languages, disseminated widely, and brought to international policy fora such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP). RUG members also fed back the findings of the project to their parent organizations. In 2010, the EPOCA RUG evolved to support and be supported by the three other main projects on ocean acidification at the time: the German project BIOlogical Impacts of Ocean ACIDification (BIOACID), the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme (UKOA) and the European Union project Mediterranean Sea Acidification in a Changing Climate (MedSeA).
In 2013, the group transitioned to a truly global initiative thanks to the generous support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. The OAiRUG complements and supports the recent creation of the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC) at the International Atomic Energy Agency, also based in Monaco.