Activity 1.1 Academic (higher) education

Academic education is provided at national Universities or, when these do not provide the necessary curriculum, in other Universities within or outside the region. The IOC Capacity Development Strategy can promote collaboration among Universities (and associated research institutions) and improve the cooperation between UNESCO Chairs and IOC programmes and activities. The following actions are proposed:

⇨ Action 1.1.1 Promote and assist with the establishment of consortia of higher education at the appropriate geographic scale

While it is desirable to have full degree programmes in national Universities this may not always be possible. IOC will promote the establishment of national or regional consortia (of countries within a region) of higher education institutions that develop joint curricula for an integrated course programme and degrees that are recognized by all members of the consortia. Example: Erasmus Mundus and now Erasmus+ . This should be done in close cooperation with associated research institutions.

In addition to Erasmus+ (Mundus) and many other specific scholarships/grants (Fulbright, EU-USA, etc.), there are many university agreements amongst institutions from countries sharing the same language on specific disciplines, e.g.:
- Grupo Universidades La Rábida – Ibero American Universities in Spanish and Portuguese
- Ibero American Universities with a mobility programme that will start in 2016, following the results of the Veracruz Summit 2014
- Similar initiatives in the context of the Francophonie, Instituto Camoes (Portuguese) and Instituto Cervantes (Spanish)
- Campus do Mar (a consortia of several Universities from Galicia (Spain) and the North of Portugal providing a joint Doctoral Programme in Marine Sciences)
- Other examples from the regions. 

⇨ Action 1.1.2 Promote collaboration between UNESCO Chairs and IOC

The UNESCO UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme makes a major contribution to strengthen in-country academic programme . Launched in 1992, the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work.

The Programme supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence – i.e. in education, the natural and social sciences, culture and communication.

Through this network, higher education and research institutions all over the globe pool their resources, both human and material, to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies. In many instances, the Networks and Chairs serve as think-tanks and as bridge-builders between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making. They have proven useful in informing policy decisions, establishing new teaching initiatives, generating innovation through research and contributing to the enrichment of existing university programmes while promoting cultural diversity. In areas suffering from a dearth of expertise, Chairs and Networks have evolved into poles of excellence and innovation at the regional or sub-regional levels. They also contribute to strengthening North-South-South cooperation.

There are currently 14 UNESCO Chairs related to marine science (click for more information) .


Activity 1.2 Continuous professional development

The achievement of a University degree is not the end target of education. The rapid evolution in science and technology requires continuous professional development (CPD) .

⇨ Action 1.2.1 Promote and assist with the organization of training courses, workshops and “summer schools” relevant to the IOC mandate

Short-term (1-2 weeks) training courses and workshops are essential tools to ensure continuous professional development, i.e. updating or extending the expertise and knowledge of scientific or technical personnel.

All IOC programmes organize short-term training courses, in response to requests formulated by Member States during sessions of primary subsidiary bodies (regional or technical). These requests are then formulated in work plans.

Training courses are implemented either at venues made available on an ad hoc basis by Member States, in specialized training venues (e.g. HAB Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark or IOC Project Office for IODE in Ostend, Belgium…) or in Regional Training (and Research) Centres (e.g. the IOC Regional Training and Research Centre on Ocean Dynamics and Climate, or the new IODE OceanTeacher Global Academy Regional Training Centres, International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography, Hyderabad, India (ITCOOcean)) which are described in Action 1.2.4.

A special type of training course is the “summer school”. A portal of summer schools is hosted by IOC . The IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) organizes a “MOMSEI Summer School”

The IOC will strengthen its global programmes and regional subsidiary bodies to expand and integrate training courses in their programmes (see also Action 3.1.2 and Action 3.2.1). The IOC will work with partners to enhance training courses and programmes.

It is important that training benefits not only the individual but also the employer institution of the trainee. The trainee selection process should therefore take into account how the training will benefit the employer institution as well as the career of the trainee.

Find opportunities for continuous professional development here

⇨ Action 1.2.2 Establish or collaborate with other organizations on an internship/fellowship programme (including on-board training)

Internships allow scientists to work for a limited time in a different institution to gain on-the-job training. This is particularly useful when the expertise needed is not available in their own institution.

An important example of internship/fellowship opportunities is on-board training. While on-board, on-site experience is essential for the career of an ocean researcher, many Member States do not have a research vessel. It is therefore essential that researchers from such countries are: (i) provided on-board training to acquire the necessary skills; and (ii) are given opportunities to participate in research cruises organized within their region. Their participation may require funding support by bilateral and/or international arrangements.

IOC/WESTPAC organizes an internship programme : WESTPAC offers on-the-job training opportunities for graduate and post-graduate students worldwide to enhance their academic experience through practical work assignments as a part of the internship and volunteer programme of UNESCO. Subject to submission of the application form, internship or volunteer assignments can last up to six months and are not required to enrol full-time. Interns and volunteers are incorporated in the work as junior team members under the supervision of the Head of the IOC Regional secretariat for the Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC). However, remuneration and employment expectation are not offered.

Some partner organizations of IOC provide “scholarship/fellowship” support, such as:
POGO-SCOR Visiting Fellowships for Oceanographic Observations―SCOR has committed funds for this fellowship programme in cooperation with the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO). This programme is designed to promote training and capacity building leading toward a global observation scheme for the ocean. The programme is open to scientists, technicians, Ph.D.-level graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows from centres in developing countries involved in oceanographic work. It offers the opportunity for such individuals to visit other oceanographic centres for a short period (1-3 months) for training on any aspect of oceanographic observations, analyses, and interpretation. The first set of awards was made in 2001, and awards have been made annually since then.
• POGO also runs a Visiting Fellowship Programme for on-board training on the Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT) cruise . It offers the opportunity for a scientist from a developing country to participate in cruise preparation and planning, to help make hydrological, biological and ecological observations on board the ship, and to analyse and statistically interpret the results after the cruise. In 2013, a similar scheme was set up in partnership with the EU project GreenSeas to provide training on-board the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP) cruise.
• POGO also contributes to funding the Austral Summer Institutes (ASI), which take place at the University of Concepcion in Chile around December-January every year.

IOC will encourage the expansion of an internship/fellowship programme in all regions (taking into account it exists already in the WESTPAC region) and will partner with other organizations such as POGO, SCOR and others through joint programmes and activities as appropriate.


⇨ Action 1.2.3 Establish, and collaborate with other organizations on a visiting lecturer programme


Visiting lecturers fill a gap of specific expertise required in a teaching or training programme or enrich existing expertise by providing on-site training and related student support services. This is applicable for developed as well as developing countries. This mechanism is complementary and further enhances IOC’s training course programme (Action 1.1.1).

Partner organizations provide such support:
• SCOR Visiting Scholars : SCOR began a programme in 2009 to enlist the services of ocean scientists from the SCOR community, from both developed countries and developing countries, both recently retired and active, to teach short courses and to provide more extended on-site education and mentorship at developing country institutions. Some countries and/or individual institutions have requirements for their scientists to retire at a given age, sometimes as early as 60 years of age. Many retired ocean scientists are still interested in teaching and mentoring, and are supported by pensions after their retirement, so do not need salary support. Some active scientists can also use some of their already-supported work time to work in a developing country.
• POGO also runs a Visiting Professorship Programme under which marine scientists of international standing teach at marine institutions in the developing world for periods of up to three months. This exposes young scientists, particularly from developing countries, to the best oceanographers world-wide and facilitates the formation of professional contacts, invaluable in the development of their scientific careers.

IOC will promote expanded visiting lecturer programmes through collaboration with partner organizations. This action will further support Action 1.1.1.


⇨ Action 1.2.4 Promote and assist with the establishment of regional training (and research) centres relevant to the IOC mandate

Based upon the decisions of WESTPAC Member States to establish IOC Regional Training and Research Centres (IOC RTRC) and Member States involved in IODE to establish OceanTeacher Global Academy Regional Training Centres (OTGA RTCS) in existing and well established research or academic institutions, we can conclude that Member States now desire to support such a mechanism to establish a long-term and sustainable training mechanism.

WESTPAC (see addendum, section III) initiated the “UNESCO/IOC Regional Network of Training and Research Centres in the Western Pacific” in 2008, aiming to improve regional capability and capacity in a sustainable and systematic manner through the establishment of regional training and research centres in national oceanographic institutes or universities based on the host institution’s scientific specialization and recognition. The RTRCs shall provide training and research opportunities to young scientists, mainly from developing countries within and outside the WESTPAC region with emphasis on combined modes of face-to-face training, hands-on exercises and training-through-research. The UNESCO/IOC Regional Training and Research Centre on Ocean Dynamics and Climate (IOC RTRC-ODC) was officially established at the First Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration (FIO, SOA) of China, in 2010. In addition, other RTRCs on different marine scientific areas are being developed with interested countries in the region

Within the framework of the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme of the IOC, the OceanTeacher Global Academy (OTGA) project is being implemented (2015–2018). This project is promoting the establishment and supporting the operation of OTGA Regional Training Centres (OTGA RTCs) in Colombia, USA, Belgium, Senegal, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, India, Malaysia and China (see addendum, section III)

In addition to establishing such centres IOC will network these centres in order to:
(i) enable the sharing of course materials (and their translation into languages other than the original language of its creation);
(ii) promote student and teacher mobility;
(iii) promote regional and inter-regional collaboration through community building.


⇨ Action 1.2.5 Promote the sharing of training course materials

The sharing of training course materials is essential to expand access to capacity development opportunities regionally and globally.

One mechanism, the OceanTeacher Learning Management System (LMS) which is a tool of the OceanTeacher Global Academy is offered for use by all regional training centres for the storage, management and sharing of training contents. If so desired other systems can of course be used but these should preferably be open systems that allow the exchange (or harvesting) of content.

It is noted that while the OceanTeacher LMS has not been designed to function as a fully distance learning system, it could host courses that are fully delivered through distance learning. This could be useful for “update” modules (continuous professional development).

The IOC will seek to facilitate the online sharing of training course materials where appropriate.


Activity 1.3 Sharing of knowledge and expertise/community building


⇨ Action 1.3.1 Establish a travel grant “fund”

Sharing research findings and experience with peers is a crucial element in scientific research, scientific progress and capacity development. Currently IOC does not have a dedicated CD “fund” that provides travel grants to allow researchers to attend conferences and workshops (an exception is workshops organized by IOC). In some cases global programmes or Sub-Commissions and Regional Committees provide such travel support.

IOC will explore mechanisms to establish/strengthen programmes to share knowledge and expertise through travel grants, regionally and globally. Partner organizations provide such support: SCOR established in 1984 a programme of travel awards to ocean scientists from developing countries and those with economies in transition. This programme is supported through a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation and approximately 60 scientists are awarded full or partial travel grants each year to participate in major international ocean science meetings and short-term training programmes.

A proposal for a "travel grant fund" is included in the "IOC Capacity Development Fund"

⇨ Action 1.3.2 Establish, or collaborate with other organizations on a mentoring programme

Mentoring allows young (starting) scientists to interact with experienced scientists. It can be a very efficient and effective method to transfer working experience. Mentoring works best if the mentor and mentored can work together. The IOC will explore mechanisms to develop a mentoring programme through IOC’s communities of practice.


⇨ Action 1.3.3 Promote and assist with the development of IOC alumni networks

Taking into account the many years of experience of IOC in providing technical training in various regions, those who participated have become a “pool” of alumni. An alumni pool can be brought directly into the IOC communities of practice expanding the base of participants in IOC programmes and promoting networking between experts. Such a group can be of assistance to IOC: the career path of alumni can be monitored so the impact of the training can be measured. But the alumni can also feedback recommendations to IOC in order to improve the training programmes. IOC/IODE’s Alumni system allows listing students by country and by year. Linked to the OceanExpert Directory it allows some degree of career tracking. The IOC will build an online community of alumni that have participated in IOC training activities and will establish an appropriate mechanism to maintain the system.

Access the IOC (IODE) alumni system here


⇨ Action 1.3.4 Promote and support “young scientist” awards

Awards can bring community appreciation and an element of (positive) competition into the research environment. They could consist of a certificate, monetary reward, equipment, a medal, a travel/study grant or a combination of these.

In order to assist young scientist to dedicate themselves to marine science, and observation, the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) decided to award four prizes [Young Scientist Award ] to the young scientists at the 8th IOC/WESTPAC International Scientific Symposium (Busan, Republic of Korea, March 2011), two for the best oral presentation and two for the best poster.

IOC will explore mechanisms to promote and support young scientists’ recognition and awards, in particular at the regional level.


Activity 1.4: Gender balance

Gender Equality continues to be one of two global priorities of UNESCO (Gender Equality was designated as one of two global priorities of the Organization Medium-Term Strategy, 2008–2013). This priority status is maintained for the current Medium-Term Strategy, 2014–2021. The UNESCO Priority Gender Equality Action Plan for 2014–2021 (GEAP II) provides an operational framework for the implementation of Priority Gender Equality. It explains what gender equality means for UNESCO, provides guidance on how the Organization will ensure that a gender equality perspective is reflected in all its policies, programmes and processes so that gender equality is advanced both within the institutional processes of the secretariat and its work with Member States.

For UNESCO, Gender Equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. It implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is a human rights principle, a precondition for sustainable, people-centred development, and it is a goal in and of itself. UNESCO’s vision of gender equality is in line with relevant international instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It is also informed by the reflections concerning the post-2015 development framework.


⇨ Action 1.4.1 Promoting participation of women in ocean research

Member States are urged to work towards a balance between men and women in ocean research, observation and other disciplines within the remit of the IOC mandate.

Member States are urged to consider women and men equally in terms of training opportunities (i.e. all actions under output 1).

IOC will strengthen its efforts to increase women participation in IOC training courses and other capacity development activities, and monitor progress of this action through its alumni system (see action 1.3.3).

The IOC (IODE) alumni service provides information on gender balance for all its events. Example: training course participants 2016 



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