UiB launches new sustainable ocean research initiative

The University of Bergen has established an initiative to strengthen research on a sustainable ocean and to give scientific advice to authorities and international bodies.

Students from bioCEED, a Norwegian Centre for Excellence in Education, at Lygra, north of Bergen.
SUSTAINABLE RESEARCH: The new Ocean Sustainability Bergen research initiative at the University of Bergen will give scientific advice to authorities and international bodies. The initiative will provide research and education towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals across UiB's faculties. The photo shows biology students exploring the coastal waters of western Norway.
Eivind Senneset for University of Bergen

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By establishing Ocean Sustainability Bergen (OSB), the University of Bergen (UiB) aims to make research and science diplomacy a key part of Norway's contribution towards a sustainable ocean, one of the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Agenda 2030.

In February 2018, UiB will host a national conference on the role of Norwegian universities in the implementation of the SDGs.

Offering scientific advice to authorities

“By creating Ocean Sustainability Bergen, UiB wants to contribute towards connecting Norwegian authorities directly with the research and knowledge that we can provide. Such collaboration will help Norway be a key international player on the SDGs,” says UiB's Rector Dag Rune Olsen.

“Through our university's participation in last year's UN Ocean Conference we underlined our commitment to a sustainable ocean. At the conference we entered into two voluntary commitments with international partners. By establishing this initiative we formalise our initiatives from the Ocean Conference. All our faculties will participate in providing direct scientific advice to authorities and international bodies on the implementation of the SDGs.”

Marine research and education is already one of three focus areas at UiB, under the direct leadership of a marine dean and a marine director. There is also a marine advisory board encompassing all UiB faculties. This underlines the scope and span of the university’s marine academic community. By establishing the OSB initiative, UiB asserts its firm commitment to explicitly integrating the SDGs in the university's strategic focus areas.

“Norway was a driving force to implement the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, not least through Jens Evensen's tireless efforts. In the future it will be even more important to secure sustainable global governance of the ocean. By making “Life Below Water” one of the SDGs, the UN underscores the importance of a sustainable ocean. This is why it is particularly important for a research institution to offer our research knowledge from across disciplines,” Rector Olsen says.

Meeting the needs of future generations

According to Rector Olsen, working towards the SDGs also fits hand in glove with the longstanding position UiB has had as “the international university” in Norway, along with the university's already long-term focus on marine research, climate research and global challenges.

“We are a comprehensive university that conducts and manages knowledge across all disciplines, and not least in ocean research. Sustainability runs through the research and education that we offer across all our seven faculties,” says the UiB-Rector.

He believes that the growing awareness on sustainable development will affect, and must shape, future education opportunities.

“Young people today have a completely different idea of a sustainable world than my own generation has. This creates a challenge for our university as a knowledge provider. A vital task will be to look at how the education we offer can be organised to meet the needs and expectations of future generations,” says Rector Dag Rune Olsen at UiB.

International initiative

A Steering Committee for the OSB initiative under the leadership of Vice-Rector for Global Relations, Annelin Eriksen, is to be appointed. The Ocean Sustainability Bergen Task Force includes Professor Peter M. Haugan (leader), Professor Edvard Hviding, Professor Sigrid Eskeland Schütz, and Professor Dag Lorents Aksnes.

In the coming years, UiB will also host international conferences, seminars and other activities in the science-policy interface through the OSB initiative.