Jens Boel
Exploring the Ocean. A History of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Within the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is the competent body and focal point for ocean science. In July 1960 an intergovernmental oceanographic conference in Copenhagen agreed that a new world-wide body should be created within UNESCO with the purpose of promoting scientific investigation of the ocean; in December that same year the General Conference of UNESCO decided to establish the IOC. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, which is based in Rome, played an important role in the creation of the IOC and in its later work and development. The FAO even suggested, in spring 1960, that the new Commission should be jointly governed by UNESCO and FAO. Although this proposal was not accepted by UNESCO, it reflects the strong interest of FAO in this new UN body. The project aims at writing and publishing a history of the IOC. Such a history is timely since the challenges faced in ocean science relating to climate change, the environment, biodiversity and sustainable development are bigger today than ever before in the history of humanity. After 60 years of existence, time has come to take stock of the significance, successes and shortcomings of the IOC. Such a study must include research on the role played by FAO and consultation of its archives in Rome is essential.