Project to map ocean floor by 2030 now operational
At a press conference, the Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, has announced that The Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project is now operational. The Project will realise Mr Sasakawa’s vision to map the entirety of the world’s ocean floor by 2030. The Nippon Foundation, which has a long history of supporting maritime issues, has pledged $2 million US dollars per year as seed money – and is calling on the resources of the international maritime community for additional support.
As discussed at the press conference by a panel of leading ocean-mapping experts, understanding the bathymetry of the global ocean is imperative, not only for improving maritime navigation, but also for enhancing our ability to predict climate change and monitor marine biodiversity and resources. The project will make a significant contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development’.
The challenges facing the oceans have recently been brought into sharp relief. The world is now aware of the threat posed by plastic to marine ecosystems, exacerbated by climate change. The need for bathymetric data was also highlighted by the disappearance in March 2014 of Malaysian Airlines flight, MH370. A comprehensive map of the seafloor will assist global efforts to combat pollution, aid marine conservation, forecast tsunami wave propagation, and help inform the study of tides, wave action, and sediment transport.
Just seven months after he launched The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project in New York, Mr. Sasakawa introduced its first Director, Mr. Satinder Bindra. Mr. Bindra, who has been appointed after an exhaustive global search, brings a wealth of experience to the project, having previously worked for the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and UN Environment, where he promoted key environmental initiatives and sustainable development. He will lead and coordinate the efforts of the international project team.
The Regional Centers are based at The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Germany, covering the Southern Ocean; The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Wellington, New Zealand, covering the South and West Pacific Ocean; The Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, USA, covering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans; and Stockholm University, Sweden, in partnership with the University of New Hampshire, USA, for the North Pacific and Arctic Ocean. The Global Center, which is responsible for centralised data management and products, is based at the UK National Oceanography Center, Southampton.
The Nippon Foundation, a private, non-profit foundation, was established in 1962 for the purpose of carrying out philanthropic activities, using revenue from motorboat racing. The Foundation’s overall objectives include social innovation, assistance for humanitarian activities and global ocean management. Its philanthropic ideals embrace social development and self-sufficiency, and it pursues these principles by working to improve public health and education, alleviate poverty, eliminate hunger and help the disabled.
The General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) partners The Nippon Foundation in the Seabed 2030 Project. GEBCO is a joint project of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO – the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. It is the only organisation with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor. It has its origins in the GEBCO chart series initiated in 1903 by Prince Albert I of Monaco, and aims to provide the most authoritative, publicly-available bathymetric datasets for the world’s oceans.