The Tenth Session of the GOOS Regional Alliance Forum (GRF-X) was held online through a series of four meetings (9 and 10 September, 27 October, and 16 December 2021). The Forum, led by GOOS Regional Council Chair R. Venkatesan, convened the representatives from thirteen GOOS GRAs, as well as emerging national GRAs. The GRF-X discussed core activities carried out in the last two years, the Benefits of Ocean Observations Catalog (BOOC) and how GRAs can contribute to its development. The meetings also discussed GOOS activities and engagement with GRAs, as well as the UN Ocean Decade actions and the development of a new GOOS/GRA regional approach for a thriving regional coordination ecosystem. In addition, the Forum decided on new GRA priorities, actions and leadership for the next two years.
GRF- X. Feedbacks on GOOS regional vision and approaches
GRAs discussed the Benefits of the Ocean Observations Catalog (BOOC),an emerging tool spearheaded by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S IOOS). BOOC aims to create an online, geographically referenced, searchable database of use cases focused on the end user’s specific choices that they make from information, products and services from the ocean observing systems. Presently, the initiative is at an early stage (development of the prototype) and efforts are being taken to have a global collaboration of GRAs and other interested organisations to contribute in different ways in the development of BOOC.
The key achievements of the GRAs in the last two years range from the development of new low-cost technology wave buoys, the development of a coral bleaching alert system, new ocean literacy products, new databases to help monitor the support of operational ocean forecasting systems and disaster risk reduction, a new information system to improve fishing efficiency and monitor marine pollution. Several GRAs have also developed new strategic plans aligned with the GOOS 2030 Strategy.
GRAs and regional project representatives (AtlantOS, TPOS) participated in the GOOS Steering Committee (GOOS SC-10 Part 2) meeting on 29 November 2021. They discussed GOOS regional approaches, vision, and policies for a thriving regional coordination ecosystem.
The final session of the GRF-X Forum discussed a key decision of the GOOS SC-10 presented by Emma Heslop, GOOS Programme Specialist, concerning the constitution of a sub-task team or working group composed of members from the GOOS Governance Task Team, GOOS Steering Committee, GRA Leadership and regional projects to conduct key activities such as the development of a proposal for an updated GOOS Regional Policy in 2022. Denis Chang Seng, GOOS Programme Specialist, presented the preliminary results on the feedbacks about GOOS visions for a thriving regional coordination ecosystem. Key highlights included suggestions for GOOS to adopt an Earth System Observation approach, having a single voice and strategy, enhancing collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and IOC Sub-commissions, and recognition of regional activities. There is a need to enforce the collaboration and connectivity between GOOS, GOOS components and GRAs and to strengthen the links of the GOOS National Focal Points with countries, agencies, and data providers.
The GRF-X agreed on a list of actions for the next two years. A meeting will be organized in the first quarter of 2022 to explore the possibility of a GRA international badge of quality that is respected internationally, aimed to better characterize and build on GRAs capabilities.
The new GRA Council Chair is Carl Gouldman, Director of the U.S Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS), who was previously the Vice-Chair of the GRA Council. He succeeds R. Venkatesan, from the Indian Ocean GOOS (IO GOOS). The GOOS Secretariat thanked R. Venkatesan for his significant contribution to GOOS and GRA Council leadership. The new Vice-Chair of the GRA Council is Michelle Heupel, Director of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS).