Peggys Cove Canada

Community engaged ocean science in Canada

Canadian Commission for UNESCO – Canada

This program seeks to address the question “how can ocean science contribute to sustainable marine development?” as it begins with the knowledge that ocean science left to its own devices will not necessarily contribute to sustainable development goals.

This is particularly the case if ocean science is not connecting to societal priorities or is of immediate relevance for “leaving no one behind” to meet the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals. Importantly, science also historically contributed to the marginalization of Indigenous groups and knowledge systems.

Our project takes three stages. We first explore how science programs co-designed with coastal communities contributes to sustainable development. We then will research models of co-design with Indigenous groups in Canada. Finally, we will explore a specific case study on the use of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in the sustainable use of marine resources.

In terms of progress, we held a satellite event structured around our report, Towards a New Ocean Science: engaging with culture to promote sustainable development, on May 10, 2022 for the Ocean Decade Laboratory – An Accessible Ocean. Our satellite event was called “Engaging ocean science with culture to promote sustainable development,” which was structured around the report.

At the Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona in April 2024, we partnered with the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Pacific Community (SPC) to deliver an on-site satellite event in the main plenary entitled “Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Community-Engaged Ocean Science,” in which an all-Indigenous panel will highlight innovative Indigenous-led approaches to marine governance and management, and outline models of meaningful engagement for the science community. It will also highlight challenges that Indigenous peoples face when engaging with scientists.

In addition, an Early Career Ocean Professional on our Decade Action working group, Dorothy Hodgins, will deliver a presentation outlining different models of co-designed science with coastal communities.

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