Humankind has been mapping the ocean since we first sailed the seas. Knowing the depth of the seabed helped mariners safely navigate often dangerous shores. But what else can be gained by mapping our blue planet?
In 2017, The Nippon Foundation and General Bathymetry Chart of the Ocean (GEBCO) came together to look at how ocean mapping might support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘to conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.’ This was at a time when the need to map the 70% of Earth’s blue surface was growing increasingly more urgent – and at the time, only 6% had been mapped to an adequate resolution.
The absence of detailed underwater topography, or bathymetric data, was hindering our capacity to manage marine resources sustainably and safeguard coastal communities worldwide. Recognising this, Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, launched the ambitious Seabed 2030 Project in partnership with GEBCO at the inaugural UN Ocean Conference in New York.
Through Seabed 2030, the two organisations have committed to building the necessary technical, scientific, and management framework to compile all available seabed mapping information into a seamless digital map of the world’s ocean floor by 2030.
The mission is social innovation. By forging networks among citizens, corporations, nonprofit organisations, governments, and international bodies, The Nippon Foundation serves as a hub for the world’s wisdom, experience, and human resources, giving individuals the capacity to change society.
GEBCO's aim is to provide the most authoritative publicly-available bathymetry of the world's oceans. It operates under the joint auspices of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
(IOC) (of UNESCO).
Supporting Global Goals
The Nippon Foundation and GEBCO formed Seabed 2030 as an ambitious call to action for humanity to mobilise and accelerate efforts to produce a definitive map of our ocean by 2030 and make it available to all. Understanding our ocean is fundamental to safeguarding our shared future on this blue planet.
As part of the global efforts to create a sustainable future, the United Nations declared a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). This decade is a rallying cry, unifying stakeholders around the world under a shared vision to improve conditions for the sustainable development of our ocean.
Seven pivotal outcomes serve as the compass points for this Ocean Decade: a clean, healthy and resilient, productive, predictable, safe, accessible, and inspiring and engaging ocean. Bathymetric data, the topography of the ocean floor, is the cornerstone of our understanding that enables us to make progress toward these outcomes.
In June 2021, Seabed 2030 had the honour of being officially recognised as a flagship programme of the Decade. Our mission resonates with and actively supports UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) – a commitment to conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Mapping our ocean provides fascinating data and is a crucial tool in enabling work towards a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.
The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project is formally endorsed as a flagship programme of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
Strategic Advisory Group
Global CenterThe Global Center is based in the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) in Liverpool, UK. It is responsible for collating gridded bathymetric data products from the Regional Centers to feed into the GEBCO ocean map.
Southern Regional CenterBased at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven, Germany, the Southern Ocean Regional Center acts as the regional focus for data compilation and coordination activities in the Southern Ocean region and the south Atlantic, south Pacific, and south Indian Ocean south of 50°S.
Atlantic and Indian Oceans Regional CenterThe Atlantic and Indian Oceans Regional Center acts as the regional focus for data compilation and coordination activities for Seabed 2030 in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Center is based at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) of Columbia University, Palisades, USA.
Arctic and North Pacific Ocean Regional CenterThe Arctic and North Pacific Ocean Regional Center acts as the regional focus for data compilation and coordination activities for Seabed 2030 in the Arctic and Northern Pacific Ocean region. It is jointly hosted by the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center (CCOM/JHC) at the University of New Hampshire and the Department of Geological Sciences at Stockholm University, Sweden.
South and West Pacific Ocean Regional CenterBased at the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the South and West Pacific Ocean Regional Center acts as the regional focus for data compilation and coordination activities in the South and West Pacific region.
IHO Data Center for Digital BathymetryThe IHO Data Center for Digital Bathymetry is a central repository for raw bathymetric data and all data compiled by Seabed 2030 and is hosted by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado. The DCDB archives and freely shares depth data acquired vessels during surveys or while on passage.