International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)

International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) was established to enable a greater scientific understanding of the role of the ocean at an Earth System level and to consider the consequences of the multiple stressors exerted upon it for life on Earth. IPSO works with the world`s leading marine scientists to consider the cumulative impacts of anthropogenic stressors from climate change through to the harvesting of marine species and what the consequences of these are for the ability of the ocean to function as part of the planet`s life support system and to provide food and other ecosystem services to humankind.

Company details

Business Type:
Non-governmental organization (NGO)
Industry Type:
Market Focus:
Internationally (various countries)

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The IPSO scientists develop an ecosystemic (holistic) understanding of how the ocean functions at the Earth System level by synthesizing existing science, developing new scientific models and approaches and enabling new scientific research and work to be undertaken.

A key role of IPSO is to provide a clear and independent assessment of the implications of this scientific knowledge for ocean, ecosystem and species management and decision-making including of terrestrial ecosystems impacting the marine environment.

IPSO is housed at Sommerville College, Oxford University, UK and convenes regular 'state of the ocean' workshops which bring together scientists from different marine disciplines and areas of expertise (from pollution and extraction to acidification and hypoxia) to consider how much we understand about the current state of the ocean and the measures necessary to protect it from wide-scale collapse.

The workshops also considers solutions to ocean protection including new or evolving ideas and approaches. This is supplemented by pieces of research and smaller workshops to consider specific areas of interest or concern and IPSO undertakes or commissions large pieces of work to tackle particular threats or challenges

IPSO also brings together communicators, policy and legal experts with the scientific community in order to consider the broadest possible solutions and to help the scientists reflect their findings and concerns in appropriate fora. IPSO representatives give evidence and are called upon for advice by International bodies such as the United Nations, national governments and departments as well as by the media and others.

It is part of the organisation's role to develop new ideas or approaches to communicating the role of the ocean at an Earth System level and IPSO was instrumental in the foundation of the High Seas Alliance to help raise awareness of the much neglected areas beyond national jurisdiction; was a founding partner in Oceans Inc which broadcasts quality television coverage about the ocean from important international conferences and established Ocean Witness, a project still in development to enable 'citizen' marine science. IPSO produces educational materials about the ocean for schools and is evolving a new campaign to tackle ocean toxic pollution.

IPSO was founded by marine scientist Professor Alex Rogers and Communications & Campaign specialist Mirella von Lindenfels, to address what they saw as significant gaps in our collective understanding of the role of the ocean in making life on Earth possible. They founded IPSO to address those gaps and to communicate the outcomes to a wide audience, with a view to altering the downward spiral in ocean health and engaging people in its protection.

Professor Rogers: 'Human impacts on the oceans are damaging vital food resources and functions that feedback to climate change and move us further towards unpredictable and potentially catastrophic changes to the environment, biodiversity and human society. This is of deep concern to me and the majority of scientists who study the ocean and should be treated as a global emergency of utmost urgency'.

Mirella von Lindenfels: 'If we can communicate a better understanding of what the ocean does to make the planet habitable, we might see swifter action to preserve it. In a way IPSO is about saving Earth and all life on it because this planet won't function without its ocean.'