The IODE programme’s governing body is the IODE Committee, composed of heads of NODCs, ADUs and AIUs. IOC Member States, in addition, provide in-kind support to the IODE programme through their national data and information centres, which are members of the IODE Committee.

The IOC Project Office for IODE was formally approved for establishment by the IOC Assembly at its 22nd Session (2003) through Resolution XXII-7 and officially inaugurated on 25 April 2005. It is the decentralized secretariat of the IODE Programme. Based in Oostende, Belgium, it coordinates all project activities of the IODE Programme, as well as the IOC capacity development strategy.

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing will be hosted by the IODE Project Office to ensure a non- duplicative coordination role and to benefit from available in-kind resources (e.g. office space, etc.). The DCO will report to the IODE Project Office on regular operations and will report to the DCU and IODE Management Group on major decisions regarding funding, scope and direction, and to report on progress, similar to other IODE components.

The DCO’s team includes a full-time Manager who will manage the office and provide high-level support for its activities; a Technical Implementation Lead; and an Administrative Assistant. The DCO Manager will act as the focal point, responsible for maintaining communications with other Decade organizations, such as the DCU and other DCOs/DCCs. The organizational chart below provides an overview of the lines of authority and communication of the DCO team:

Latest Developments2024-03-23T15:31:37+01:00

Since its launch in June 2023, the Ocean Data Sharing DCO has been focusing on implementing its core mandate which is to:

Forthcoming activities and events will focus on mobilizing the Ocean Decade data and information sharing community to identify Actions needs and challenges, in this context, provide support and highlight the wealth of resources that already exist.

Launch of Ocean Data Sharing Community of Practice

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing has launched its Community of Practice on December 14th at 13.00CET.

This Ocean Data Sharing Community of Practice will be a space to discuss and exchange questions, knowledge, and resources on all things ocean data related.

Initially limited to endorsed Decade Actions, this interactive space will connect the data and information-sharing community to foster dialogue and build capacity in data sharing and management in the Decade.

Hosted by and working in close collaboration with IODE, the Ocean Data Sharing DCO has been established to support the Decade Actions with their data and information management needs, contributing to the implementation of the Decade’s Data and Information Strategy and ensuring a successful outcome for Ocean Decade Challenge 8 “Creating a Digital Representation of the Ocean“.

Are you linked to an endorsed Decade Action and interested in connecting to the ocean data sharing community? Then join our Community of Practice

If you are not – or not yet – an endorsed Decade Action, then feel free to register your interest in the work of this DCO by sending us an email at oceandatasharing@unesco.org.

Community of Practice ‘Meet & Greet’ Agenda – See the agenda and how to connect here: https://forum.oceandecade.org/networks/events/130480


Meet our Decade Programmes

The following four Decade Actions are attached to the DCO for Ocean Data Sharing. Further information can be found at the links below and on their respective website. Each provides an example of best practice in ocean data sharing and management and are excellent resources for the Decade community.

Ocean Data 2030: Led by IODE, Ocean Data 2030 will develop an open-source data and information system that will link existing ocean information systems around the world, and enable more efficient discovery of data, information and knowledge products.

GEOTRACES: Led by the U.S. National Science Foundation (on behalf of the international partners), GEOTRACES is an international program designed to coordinate efforts and data regarding marine biogeochemical cycles of trace elements and their isotopes (TEIs).

World Ocean Database Programme (WODP): Led by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), builds on IODE’s Ocean Data and Information System (ODIS) and will enable National Oceanographic Data Centers worldwide and other digital repositories to (i) upload their oceanographic data into WOD and (ii) retrieve data in a uniform interoperable format; a value-added proposition. The vision is to achieve openly discoverable, accessible, and adaptable digital profile oceanographic data of known quality.

Digital innovation hand-in-hand with fisheries & ecosystem monitoring: Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department (FI) Division, the Fisheries and Environmental Atlas will use Open Data and Open Science to support fisheries and ecosystems scientific monitoring. It will include topical environmental maps and data for FAIR analysis.


Vision 2030 Working Group 8

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing has been providing support to the Vision 2030 Challenge 8 Working Group to deliver a White Paper outlining the strategic vision for what success would look like for this challenge by 2030. The White Paper will be presented, together the White Papers for the other nice challenges at the Decade Conference in Barcelona in April 2023.

Find out more about this Working Group, read the article on the Vision 2030 webpage: ‘Spotlight on Working Group 8’!

The guiding framework towards setting a strategic ambition for Challenge 8 as developed by Working Group 8.

Members of the Vision 2030 Challenge 8 Working Group

Find out more about the Vision 2030 process here.

Terms of Reference2024-03-04T06:18:14+01:00

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing shall carry out the following actions in support of the Decade:

Coordination of Actions and Stakeholder Facilitation and Engagement

  1. Organization of (online) meetings for stakeholder communities (grouped or joint and in close cooperation with the Data Coordination Group) to discuss the targets of the data chapter of the Decade IP, required infrastructure and methodologies, possible contributions from stakeholder communities, benefits to stakeholder communities,
  2. Engage and coordinate with the Data Coordination Group and the Technical Implementation Coordination Group that will be implemented within the Data Coordination Platform set up by the DCU,
  3. Organization of (online) meetings with leaders of related, relevant Decade DCCs, DIPs (Decade Implementing Partners), and DCOs, Programmes and Projects to ensure coherent actions and complementarity and facilitate this through the community of practice on the global stakeholder forum,
  4. Establishment of technical or strategic sub-groups to co-design required actions in response to Calls for Decade Actions with attention to end user engagement and end user needs,
  5. Facilitate Decade Actions (eg through the IODE/GOOS OBPS) in support of best practices for data management, scientific coordination and planning, tools and resources for developing capacity on research data management and sharing, and resources for data publishing, sharing and interoperability,
  6. Promote cooperation with relevant IOC Programmes, related Projects, other relevant UN entities and stakeholder groups in order to advance the implementation of the Decade,
  7. Support capacity development under the remit of the DCO which can be provided through existing activities such as OceanTeacher Global Academy and related activities,
  8. Maintain an updated list of relevant Decade Programmes, Projects, and Activities, as well as Decade Contributions, when they are relevant for the DCO’s scope of work, including information on relevant contacts, status, partners, and its expected activities and outcomes.
  9. Proactively facilitate the structuring and engagement of a Communities of Practice around ocean data sharing via the Global Stakeholder Forum to facilitate dialogue and exchange between other Decade stakeholders.

Supporting Decade Calls for Action

  1. Based upon requirements identified during stakeholder meetings, draft calls for action to contribute to the expected outcomes (facilitate discussions in CoPs on gaps and needs in the digital ecosystem to inform the scoping of future calls for decade actions in close cooperation with the DCG),
  2. Discuss and coordinate draft calls with DCU (as well as with DCCs and ongoing programmes, projects to ensure complementarity). CFDAs will be launched by DCU – role of DCO is to provide input to scoping and provide input to review process for programmes to inform endorsement decisions,
  3. The IODE Project Office, IODE Committee and active IODE projects regularly publish and review calls for proposals for consultants and sub-contractors, so mechanisms are in place.

Monitoring & Reporting

  1. Organize regular reporting by all DCCs, DIPs, programmes and projects within the scope of work of the DCO and in line with the requirements of the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework of the Ocean Decade,
  2. Provide advice and data to the DCU on monitoring and evaluation data from the Decade Programs, Projects and Activities under its scope of work,
  3. Deliver an annual workplan to the DCU and the IODE Management Group on the first semester of each year, setting out the DCO’s priorities, tasks, goals, and timing for the year, to make sure there is alignment with the Ocean Decade goals, the other DCOs/DCCs, and other relevant Decade stakeholders,
  4. Present an annual financial and activity report for the previous calendar year , to be presented during the first trimester of the following year.
  5. Contribute to Decade annual reporting, including the preparation of programmatic / geographic summaries of Decade Actions under their scope of work, case studies or more in depth thematic or geographic analyses.

The diagram below illustrates the lines of reporting between the Decade Actions, the DCO for Ocean Data Sharing, the DCU and the IODE Project Office.


  1. Raise awareness and visibility of the Decade amongst diverse stakeholder groups and coordinate targeted communications activities in line with branding and messaging guidelines provided by the Decade Coordination Unit,
  2. Organize regular communication of all activities undertaken by DCCs, programmes and projects under the scope of work of the DCO, through appropriate communication and public awareness channels,
  3. Ensure communication channels between the DCO for Ocean Data Sharing, other DCOs and the DCU to ensure overall coordination of communication on data and information across all IP chapters.

Mobilization of Resources

  1. In close coordination with the DCU, DCCs, programmes and projects under the scope of the DCO, and supported by relevant communication efforts, undertake resource mobilization efforts to fund endorsed Decade projects and programmes through financial or in-kind contributions by member states, other organizations, private sector and foundations,
  2. Coordinate Resource Needs Assessments of endorsed programmes and projects under the responsibility of the DCO in line with guidance provided by the DCU,
  3. Seek partnerships, voluntary commitments, sponsorship and funding to strengthen the implementation and impact of a world-class digital data eco-system.

Other Agreed Functions & Responsibilities

  1. Align strategy development and implementation with:
    1. The other DCOs, DIPs and DCCs that are established within the Decade that focus on the observation, management, analysis and /or delivery of data and information.
    2. The Data Coordination Group and the Technical Implementation Coordination Group that will be formed under the Terms of Reference of the Data Coordination Platform, and with the Data & Knowledge Management Officer of the DCU.
  1. Encourage adherence to best practices (including existing data policies and terms of use) and FAIR data principles within the Decade Actions.

The core focus of the Decade Coordination Office (DCO) for Ocean Data Management will be on supporting the Ocean Decade Challenge 8 : “Through multi-stakeholder collaboration, develop a comprehensive digital representation of the ocean, including a dynamic ocean map, which provides free and open access for exploring, discovering, and visualizing past, current, and future ocean conditions in a manner relevant to diverse stakeholders.”The DCO will thus support the development of the capacity, functionality and interoperability of the management of and accessibility to ocean data, information and knowledge.

The DCO aims to manage the Data Sharing component of the digital ecosystem needed for the Ocean Decade to be successful. Thus it will also support, interact and overlap with the other components of the digital ecosystem and therefore enables challenges 7 and 9.

  • Challenge 9: “Ensure comprehensive capacity development and equitable access to data, information, knowledge and technology across all aspects of ocean science and for all, stakeholders.”
  • Challenge 7: “Ensure a sustainable ocean observing system across all ocean basins that delivers accessible, timely, and actionable data and information to all users.”

The activities of this DCO will promote sustained digital interoperability between the data, information, and digital knowledge generated by initiatives across the Decade. It will bring together digital stakeholders – across regions, organizational scales, and capacity levels – to negotiate and establish clear agreements (from high- to low-level) on their co-development of the Decade’s digital ecosystem.

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing will continue coordinating activities towards cooperation between both UN and non-UN organizations which were started by IODE in 2020 (two workshops were held to bring together UN organizations and non-UN organizations to share information on their data activities and data holdings, and to invite them to collaborate under the Decade).

The DCO’s activities will support a transparent, structured, intelligent, interoperable, and functional co-development of the Decade’s initial interoperability strategy described in the Implementation Plan:

“No single or central digital infrastructure or system will be sufficient to meet the needs of the Decade. Implementation of the digital ecosystem will require inclusive and outward-facing co- design and co-construction of a distributed, integrated and interoperable set of digital solutions that will form components of the overall ecosystem. Collectively these components will represent the socio-ecological dimensions of the ocean, including the numerous pathways to support sustainable development. Implementation will include concrete efforts to bridge efforts across global, regional and local scales.” [para 48 of the Decade Implementation Plan Version 2.0]

“The Decade digital ecosystem will catalyse cooperation between data generators and users from diverse stakeholder groups including governments, UN entities, scientists, planners, decision-makers, as well as industry and the public. The digital ecosystem and its component parts will support users in accessing, understanding, assessing, and providing impactful feedback on raw and processed data, information and knowledge so that these better meet their specific needs.” [para 51 of the Decade Implementation Plan Version 2.0]

Building on this implementation vision and in line with the early considerations of the Ocean Decade Data Coordination Group, the DCO’s activities will ensure that well-defined, transparent and functional digital value chains are maintained and inclusively interlink the Decade’s stakeholders in a robust digital commons. These multifaceted value chains will be complex, and the DCO will leverage data-driven interoperability diagnostics to assess and strengthen links between the observations and operations communities, modelling communities, digital twin initiatives, and other key stakeholders such as local communities and indigenous data stewards. Early on, this coordination will leverage existing collaborations between IODE and initiatives such as OA, HAB, GOSR, StoR, and GOOS to pilot and tune the approach.

In addition, the DCO will, through its OceanTeacher Global Academy (OTGA), Ocean InfoHub (OIH) and other related IODE projects (which have also been submitted as Decade Actions) work towards equitable participation of all IOC Member States (and related regional organizations) in the Decade data activities, thereby also furthering the mission described in the Capacity Development chapter of the Decade Implementation Plan. These activities will anchor broader networks of data, information, and capacity sharing, while maintaining an overall strategic direction continually shaped by partner feedback.

What is a DCO?2024-03-04T06:17:50+01:00

Within the context of the UN decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development a “Decade Coordination Office” acts as sub-unit of the central Decade Coordination Unit. Catalysis and coordination of Decade Actions including of Calls for Decade Actions, organise and coordinate Decade review processes, promote cooperation amongst UN and Member State partners, communications, monitoring, and resource mobilisation. DCOs are typically established and hosted by UN agencies.

How to set up an IODE Associate Information Unit (AIU)2024-02-21T10:15:09+01:00

Associate Information Units (AIU) providing recognition and accreditation for marine science libraries and information centres is complementary to the Associate Data Unit structure for the IODE Data Management programme. Information (as usually managed by librarians and information managers) is as essential in the research process as data.

AIU’s were the final recommendation  of the Group of Experts on Marine Information Management (GE-MIM) which had existed since 1984 and initiated many of the IODE information products. GE-MIM was disbanded along with other Groups of Experts by IODE-XXIV following IODE project-based restructuring. IODE National Coordinators for Marine Information Management continue to exist and along with AIUs are the main communication channel for MIM discussions.

Global marine science libraries and information centres are encouraged to become Associate Information Units

Regarding marine information management, the IODE works closely with the International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers (IAMSLIC).

What are the Terms of Reference to become an AIU:

IODE Associate Information Units (AIUs) shall:

    1. Be national projects, programmes, institutions or organizations, or regional or international projects, programmes, institutions or organizations (including academia) that carry out marine information management functions, and/or provide marine information services/products;
    2. Be staffed by at least one marine information professional (by qualification or experience);
    3. Demonstrate active digital development: online information services and products;
    4. Promote Open Access to information. In this context “Open Access” is defined as “unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse” to/of information;
    5. Display a collaborative and networking ethos through:
      1. Membership/partnership of professional library/information networks to enrich their own as well as the entire IODE community;
      2. Sharing expertise and experience with other AIUs, and IODE National Coordinators for Marine Information Management;
      3. Sharing information on new digital initiatives implemented within the AIU, with the IODE community;
      4. Encourage organization staff to submit to OceanExpert
      5. Receive information on, and contribute to, IODE standards and best practices related to marine information management;
      6. Be welcomed to participate in training activities, organized within the framework of the IODE OceanTeacher Global Academy programme;
      7. Be welcomed to participate in IODE workshops and projects;
      8. Agree to display the IODE/AIU decal logo on your webpage and on marine information products developed in collaboration with IODE;
      9. Agree to make available information management documentation (standards, practices, guides…) used by the AIU for the wider marine science library and information community.

How to become AIU ?

Any marine science related project, programme, institution or organization that is willing to comply with the above-mentioned Terms of Reference can apply to join IODE as an IODE Associate Information Unit (AIU).

An application form can be downloaded here .

Information that should be provided includes:

  1. name and description of the national, regional or international institution, organization, project or programme, include URL;
  2. name of the applicant AIU (if different from (1));
  3. URL of web presence of the applicant AIU;
  4. URL of database where AIU collection holdings are recorded;
  5. URL of Open Access document repository;
  6. brief description of information services/products/digital initiatives provided by the
    entity including any separate URLs;
  7. name and contact information of the AIU contact point(s);
    (note that this name can be different from the person signing the application.
    The AIU contact point will be contacted for all practical, technical and scientific
  8. name and contact information of the head of the applicant entity:
    (Director of institution, project coordinator, etc. This may be the name of the
    person signing the application);
  9. description of staff and skills/expertise (include IT support);
  10. opportunities provided to staff for professional
    development (inhouse training/ external training/participation in
  11. metrics (e.g. number of journal subscriptions, number of
    holdings, number of records in repositories and other databases etc);
  12. demonstrated involvement in a professional network or
    partnership (e.g. active member of library network, partner
    in funded collaborative project at regional, national, international level etc)
  13. involvement in research data management activities (e.g. RDM resources webpage or assisting with creation of a Data Management Plan (DMP))
  14. for projects: expected lifespan of the project and indication of plans for the archival/preservation of the information output;
  15. please attach letter of support from organization management;
  16. required capacity building, training that IODE should provide;
  17. information on the existing relationship with IODE (if applicable).

Applications for AIUs shall be reviewed and approved by the IODE-Management Group (by email or during IODE-MG meetings). contact details?

The Group will use APPLICATION CRITERIA documented in THIS DOCUMENT

How to set up an IODE Associate Data Unit (ADU)2024-02-21T09:49:43+01:00

The IODE Associate Data Unit is inteded to bring in the wider ocean research and observation communities as key stakeholders of the IODE network, taking into account the growth of ocean research and observation programmes and projects, and the ability of these projects to establish data systems.It is important for these communities to share, provide access to and preserve all ocean research and observation data.

By joining IODE as an ADU projects, programmes, institutions or organizations will get the following benefits:

  • Receive information on, and contribute to, IODE standards and best practices related to ocean data management,
  • Be welcomed to participate in ocean data and information management training, organized within the framework of the IODE OceanTeacher programme
  • Receive assistance, upon request, from IODE, on matters related to ocean data management,
  • Be invited, as observers, to participate in Sessions of the IODE Committee,
  • Participate in IODE workshops and projects,
  • Share expertise with other ADUs and NODCs,

In return the global community, through the IODE National Oceanographic Data Centres, will benefit from the ADUs as these will be invited to share their data and information on their data collection (metadata catalogue), and this should be through their NODC (in the case of national projects, programmes, institutions or organizations), or through another IODE data facility (in the case of regional or international projects, programmes, institutions or organizations) or, in the case of biogeographic data, through iOBIS.

Applying to become an ADU

Any project, programme, institution or organization that wishes to join IODE as an IODE Associate Data Unit should contact the IOC Project Office for IODE (email to p.pissierssens@unesco.org) and provide the following information:

  1. name and contact information of the ADU contact point(s);
  2. name and contact point of the head of the applicant entity;
  3. description of the national, regional or international project, programme, institution or organization;
  4. brief description of data services/products provided by the entity;
  5. for projects: expected lifespan of the project and indication of plan for the archival/preservation of the data, data management plan;
  6. letters of support;
  7. required expertise, training that IODE could contribute;
  8. data policy (if identified) of the applicant entity;
  9. of the existing relationship with a NODC.

An application form can be downloaded here . It should be filled and signed. When submitting please send us the MS-Word version (with signature) as well as a scanned version (with signature). Please also discuss your application with your NODC (if existing) as well as with your IOC national contact as the ADUs should work closely with the NODCs (if existing).

Applications shall be reviewed by the IODE Officers (by email or during IODE Officer meetings) in consultation with –  and in the case of national projects, programmes, institutions or organization, subject to approval by the relevant NODC (if existing) –  SG-OBIS (for biogeographic information) or other relevant recognized international programme.

The mission of a National Oceanographic Data Centre2024-02-21T09:45:19+01:00

The mission of a National Oceanographic Data Centre is to provide access and stewardship for the national resource of oceanographic data. This effort requires the gathering, quality control, processing, summarization, dissemination, and preservation of data generated by national and international agencies.

The full range of data management tasks to be carried out by a national oceanographic data management “system” can be summarized as follows:

  • receiving data from national, regional and international programmes collecting oceanographic data;
  • verifying the quality of the data (using agreed upon standards)
  • ensuring the long term preservation of the data and associated information required for correct interpretation of the data; and
  • making data available, nationally and internationally.

National Responsibilities include:

  1. Receiving data from researchers, performing quality control, and archiving;
  2. Receiving data from buoys, ships and satellites on a daily basis, processing the data in a timely way, and providing outputs to various research and engineering users, forecasters, experiment managers, or to other centres participating in the data management plan for the data in question.
  3. Reporting the results of quality control directly to data collectors as part of the quality assurance module for the system.
  4. Participating in the development of data management plans and establishing systems to support major experiments, monitoring systems, fisheries advisory systems;
  5. Disseminating data on the Internet and through other means (and on CD-ROM, DVD, etc);
  6. Publishing statistical studies and atlases of oceanographic variables.
  7. Providing indicators for the different types of data being exchanged in order to track the progress.

International Responsibilities include:

  1. Participating in the development of international standards and methods for data management through the IODE and JCOMM;
  2. Participating in international oceanographic data and information exchange through the IODE
  3. Assisting with data management aspects of global or regional programmes or pilot projects through IODE and in the framework of, inter alia, the IOC’s Strategic Plan for Oceanographic Data and Information Management;
  4. Operating as a data assembly and quality control centre for part of an international science experiment;
  5. Operating regional, specialized or World Data Centre (WDC) on behalf of the international science community.
  6. Participating in the bi-annual Sessions of the IODE Committee

NODCs are designated by Governments of IOC Member States. Recommended steps for the designation of an NODC are described in the “Guide for establishing a National Oceanographic Data Centre” (IOC Manuals and Guides No. 5)

the “IODE Quality Management Framework for National Oceanographic Data Centres” (IOC Manuals and Guides No. 67). This promotes accreditation of NODCs according to agreed criteria and provides assistance to NODCs to establish organizational quality management systems.

Go to Top