Recommendations from the 4th Community workshop of the IOC Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS)

The 4th community workshop of the IOC Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS) was held as an innovative online event, spread over two weeks and comprising plenary sessions, breakout groups, and parallel working groups. A record of 452 participants from across the globe participated with a single objective: to facilitate community-led evolution of methods into best practices in ocean observations and applications. This workshop included 11 thematic working groups that addressed both cross-cutting themes and strategies for best practice development within specific communities.

Cross-cutting themes:

-Convergence of methods and endorsement of best practices
-Data and information management: towards globally scalable interoperability,
-Developing training and guidance materials as well as mechanisms for the submission (to the -OBPS) and use of OBPS best practices,
-Ethics and best practices for ocean observing and applications
-Ocean uncertainty quantification,
-Ocean partnership building

Community Consultation Groups:

-Marine litter/plastics
-Surface radiation

The workshop made a number of recommendations focusing on 6 key areas, below are several highlights (MORE)

(i) The OBPS should extend its technical functions to include: document category labelling using FAIR terminologies; modules to link to / embed externally hosted code, data, and information products to relevant documents in the system; enhanced search with natural-language processing and AI trained for specific community needs; user interface features to increase the visibility of endorsed methods and guidelines; implementation of the CARE principles.

(ii) The OBPS should increase its collaboration with the ocean observing and applications communities by: promoting activities that develop or adopt metadata standards and that provide the tools needed to implement those standards (Data WG); facilitating the creation of and disseminating a statement on the core-values of the ocean observation community (Ethics WG); exploring the application of formal collaborative models (such as the Collaborative Impact Model) (Partnerships WG); facilitating the development of recommendations for standardizing modifications to sensor electronics and housing for marine application (Ocean UQ WG);

(iii) The OBPS should further extend its role in training and education by: Facilitating the creation of dedicated training packages tailored to the needs of collaborating user groups; supporting the development of online training courses on the ethical, legal and societal dimensions of ocean issues; engaging with projects which aim to improve regional capacity building within the framework of UN Ocean Decade actions; integrating the use of the OBPS in university curricula; developing decision trees to guide users through OBPS holdings for training and education; exploring the potential of advanced multimedia tools for training.

(iv) The OBPS should intensity its outreach activities by: improving user dialogue; enhancing engagement with the fisheries community, initiated through this workshop; facilitating global coordination of methods and guidelines regarding marine litter monitoring under the UN Ocean Decade; planning for coordination/collaboration between OBPS and the US CLIVAR OceanUQ; including an aquaculture session in next OBPS workshop; increasing outreach to public-private partnerships, to facilitate the sharing of data and information and provide coordination and collaboration for science for management and entrepreneurial endeavors; improving outreach to the Early Career Ocean Professional (ECOP) community; facilitating the development of best practices on Stakeholder Engagement.

(v) The OBPS should facilitate the convergence of methods and standards by: implementing decision-tree interfaces (both static and dynamically generated); deploying technologies and processes to interlink OBPS holdings with relevant, externally hosted digital content; facilitating the harmonization of approaches and protocols for global scale indicators (expanded beyond the list of SDG indicators), with an emphasis on data management and interoperability; facilitating the design a flowchart to help the ocean community identify the potential ethical issues associated with any ocean activity (research, mineral extraction, etc).

(vi) The OBPS should support the expansion of global interoperability by: promoting the use of community-identified standards and best practices – in the appropriate contexts – from observations to end users; broadening the accessibility of its holdings (especially those that have converged into best practices) and, wherever possible, facilitating their use across a range of operational and budgetary environments ; promoting content which will increase shared and interoperable approaches that address the themes raised during the UN Decade.

The recommendations of the Workshop – both for the OBPS and for the communities which participated in the working groups – will be submitted to the IOC Steering Group for the Ocean Best Practices System (SG-OBPS) at its Second Session (online, 19-22 October 2020). A workshop proceedings will be issued before the end of the year.

For more information on the OBPS project please contact Ms Pauline Simpson, Project Manager (



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