Progress, gaps and opportunities: 12th session of the GOOS Steering Committee 

For the first time since 2019, the GOOS Steering Committee reunited in person for its 12th Session (GOOS SC-12) on 25-27 April, kindly hosted by the Ocean Frontier Institute, Halifax, Canada, to evaluate the progress in advancing the Global Ocean Observing System.

The GOOS SC-12 assessed the challenges, opportunities and level of implementation under each of the 11 GOOS Strategic Objectives, which include partnership for delivery, communications and advocacy, evaluating impact, empowering end user applications, authoritative guidance design, strengthening and expanding the system, open data, supporting innovation, developing capacity, human impact observations, and evolving GOOS governance. Considerable progress was made under every strategic objective, and here we focus on the aspects that were viewed as priority areas by the Steering Committee for the GOOS work plan moving forward.

Advocating for the role of GOOS

The steering committee members welcomed the progress made in communicating the value of ocean observing and the role of GOOS over the last years. The importance of ocean data was acknowledged in theImplementation Plan of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), as well as during several conferences of the United Nations – such as COP-27 and CBD-15. 

The Steering Committee emphasized the importance of this work, GOOS must continue to advocate for the need for sustained and coordinated observations, ensuring that ocean observing is front and foremost in these international fora. Cooperation between GOOS components as well as sponsors can create more opportunities to amplify this message. 

Regional implementation

The Steering Committee also recognized regional coordination as vital. They welcomed the rejuvenation of PI-GOOS, work to revitalize IOCARIBE-GOOS and GOOS Africa, and support ocean observing coordination in the Arctic region. Supporting the development of strong and active GOOS Regional Alliances is essential to enabling nations to collaborate and develop the observing system they need, and was highlighted as one of the top priorities of the Steering Committee.


Working within the UN Ocean Decade continues to be viewed as an key opportunity for GOOS, and the work of the Ocean Observing Co-Design Programme was referenced as important to several of the GOOS Strategic Objectives. 

Even with very limited funding, great progress was achieved in improving engagement between different stakeholders. The Co-Design Exemplars, if well utilized, can provide focus for international collaboration and for expanded investment in areas of high societal impact, where the return on investment is clearly demonstrated. The co-design approach, involving closer collaboration with users, services and modeling communities, will at the same time develop new best practices to increase connection along the value chain, from observations to users – core to the GOOS 2030 Strategy.


Evolving the governance of the Global Ocean Observing System is an important action for 2023. The Terms of Reference were agreed in Autumn 2023, and a new Task Team will be constituted through an open call to IOC, WMO and GOOS channels. 

However, significant progress has been made in several areas, such as National Focal Points (NFPs). The Steering Committee adopted the updated GOOS NFP Terms of Reference. The overarching objective of the NFPs is to promote and support nationally and regionally coordinated strategies for the implementation of a sustained global ocean observing system, and to act as a focal point for communication between GOOS and the national organizations and individuals involved in the Member State’s sustained ocean observing infrastructure.

Strengthening the core

The Steering Committee recognized the need for GOOS to evolve for the future, strengthening its ability to deliver on the GOOS 2030 Strategy and Ocean Decade actions. This critical need will be reported on at the upcoming IOC Assembly in June.

GOOS continues to grow in size and capability to deliver integrated multidisciplinary ocean information in support of monitoring and predicting our changing climate, ocean health, ocean life, weather, and hazard warnings, despite continued risk due to short-term funding horizons and inflation related pressures. 

However, to deliver on its strategy and Decade actions, GOOS needs to both stabilize and grow further. The support of GOOS sponsors, Member States and philanthropic organizations will be vital to achieve this.

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