Research is often funded by public funds. Today’s environmental concerns (climate change, marine biodiversity, sea level rise, ocean acidification, tsunami warning and mitigation...) are typically long-term and require long-term monitoring and studying. This is mostly not compatible with the more short-term government timelines (4-6 years between elections). It is therefore often difficult to convince decision-makers of the need to provide long-term funding (decades) for research activities that may not produce concrete results or clear decision support guidance. An international global approach is often the only way to obtain buy-in from governments to provide long-term funding (e.g. conventions). A reinforcing factor is public awareness and support, as described above.
In addition to public funding the option of private funding also needs to be taken into account. Increasingly governments expect that research findings should be applicable to industry and accordingly research proposals, projects and programmes are expected to address their possible use for industrial innovation.
In terms of capacity development to support developing countries/regions it should be emphasized that the IOC is not a donor agency. All funds available through IOC are based upon contributions by Member States: either through the assessed contributions by UNESCO Member States to UNESCO, or through contributions by Member States to UNESCO Funds-in-Trust, through direct contributions to IOC or through other financial and in-kind mechanisms that are aimed to support IOC. In comparison to bilateral arrangements between countries, funding provided to Member States by IOC, is usually quite small as actions are focused regionally rather than individually.
In order for IOC’s capacity development strategy to deliver benefits to Member States at the appropriate scale (nationally, regionally, globally), substantial new resources are required. This can be achieved through: (i) IOC’s resource mobilization from donors for capacity development; (ii) increased financial contributions by Member States to IOC (through the mechanisms mentioned above); or (iii) close collaboration between bilateral projects and IOC.
Some Member States are offering fellowships and grants for students from other countries within the same or other regions. These may be for short-term actions (internships, on-board training and research) or for long-term actions (M.Sc., Ph.D. programmes). Other Member States may be able to provide ship time, equipment or other in-kind support, while others may be able to second staff to IOC to assist the IOC secretariat at HQ, at secretariats of Sub-Commissions or other decentralized offices. IOC should foster partnerships and facilitate exchange of information in this regard in order to increase in-kind support opportunities.
The IOC Medium-Term Strategy states that “Existing resource mobilization approaches for Members States, institutional and private sector partners, tightly linked to the priorities approved by IOC Governing Bodies and its capacities to deliver will be intensified, as will be public-private partnerships and information and visibility efforts.”
The IOC Assembly at its 27th session in 2013 adopted a flexible approach allowing the Commission to allocate resources and implement the programme, including performance indicators and benchmarks, taking into account a set of Guiding Principles for budget allocation to maximize funding opportunities. These principles identify innovative approaches for mobilizing funding and other resources at the global and regional levels.
Member States have been providing support to IOC through various mechanisms detailed above. Taking into account priorities set by Member States in terms of focus countries, regions and preferred programmes, IOC will seek to mobilize financial and other resources to assist in achieving the priorities that Member States have articulated for the IOC capacity development programme.