Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission


Emblem of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic CommissionThe Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO was founded in 1960 on basis of the recognition that

"the oceans, covering some seventy percent of the earth's surface, exert a profound influence on mankind and even on all forms of life on Earth... In order to properly interpret the full value of the oceans to mankind, they must be studied from many points of view. While pioneering research and new ideas usually come from individuals and small groups, many aspects of oceanic investigations present far too formidable a task to be undertaken by any one nation or even a few nations."


The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission established by resolution 2.31 adopted by the General Conference of Unesco at its eleventh session, and in conformity with the recommendation of the Intergovernmental Conference on Oceanic Research (Copenhagen 11-16 July 1960) met for its first session in Paris at Unesco Headquarters from 19 to 27 October 1961. By the end of the session, a total of 40 States had become members of the Commission.


The IOC focuses on four major themes:

         to develop, promote and facilitate international oceanographic research programmes to improve understanding of critical global and regional ocean processes and their relationship to the sustainable development and stewardship of ocean resources;

         to ensure effective planning, establishment and co-ordination of an operational global ocean observing system to provide the information needed for oceanic and atmospheric forecasting, for oceans and coastal zone management and for global environmental change research;

         Boat destroyed by the tsunami in Asia, 2005to provide international education, training and technical programmes; and

         to ensure that ocean data and information obtained are widely available.


The IOC coordinates various programmes ranging from coral bleaching to tsunami warnings (photo: UNESCO/Suzanne Ornager). There are special activities in the fields of marine environment, climate change, fisheries, coastal management, data and information management, and ocean observing and monitoring.





The IOC website from UNESCO.



Related subjects


International Year of the Ocean

2nd International Oceanographic Congress, Moscow



Stamp catalogue


Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 15 July 1986









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last revised: 8 February 2008