NOS International Program Office

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The NOS International Program Office (IPO) is the focal point for NOS’s international activities to enhance U.S. and international capabilities for ocean and coastal management.  Specifically, IPO facilitates international partnerships, capacity building, scientific and technical exchanges, and access to NOS products and services.

IPO highlights from fiscal year 2009 include:

  • Providing leadership to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. IPO staff members provided support to former NOS Assistant Administrator, Jack Dunnigan, in his role as the lead representative of the U.S. Delegation to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Executive Council meeting. NOS was successful in gaining U.S. re-election as an Executive Council member to the IOC and the election of NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center Director as a Global Ocean Observing System Vice Chair. In addition, NOAA supported the identification of priority candidates for the IOC Executive Secretary position, including U.S. priority candidates. NOS provided support enabling the signing of the IOC memorandum of understanding and International Partnership Agreement that will facilitate collaboration, and in particular, facilitate cooperation and transfers of funds to the National Weather Service for tsunami joint work.
  • Coordinating the development of an NOS Caribbean strategy for international engagement in the region. Working with the NOS International Coordination Council, IPO led a process to examine both current and past NOS activities in the wider Caribbean. Through this process, the team developed goals and objectives that reach across the breadth of NOS to address threats to coastal and marine environmental quality in the region. The Caribbean Strategy contains nine project ideas that promote a unified NOS approach and identify partners in the region for program implementation. The strategy has helped NOS focus and prioritize its efforts in the region and will guide program implementation for the next five years. One of the outcomes of the Strategy is a developing partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center that will build on regional efforts to develop a region-wide ocean and coastal observation network.
  • Assisting in the development of a draft Strategic Action Plan for watershed management in China. NOS assisted colleagues from the Third Institute of Oceanography of the State Oceanic Administration of China and Xiamen University in the development of the draft strategic action plan for watershed management in the Xiamen Bay-Jiulong River Basin. The major actions include creating a regional, basin-wide management control unit and coordination mechanism for watershed management and conservation; perfecting relevant laws and regulations; building capacity for environmental management; and improving education and public involvement for environmental protection.

    If the draft plan is approved by the leading municipal governmental agency within Xiamen, it will be presented for further review and consideration in an interagency regional decision-making process representing three municipalities and multiple government agencies. The region faces many challenges common to watershed management in terms of reducing land-based sources of pollution to the marine environment and ensuring safe and reliable sources of freshwater.

  • Continuing the NOS partnership for integrated coastal management in Vietnam, to build capacity for integrated coastal and ocean resources management. In 2009, the municipality of Haiphong and province of Quang Ninh, with the support from NOS and the International Union for Conservation of Nature-The World Conservation Union, completed a regional framework for integrated coastal management with the approval of a nine-point action plan. A work plan and committed funding were also established for advancing ecosystem approaches to management in the coastal Tonkin Gulf region of Vietnam in partnership with local community groups. Based upon its successful engagement with Vietnam, a memorandum of understanding, under the existing U.S.-Vietnam Science and Technology Agreement, has been developed with the U.S. Department of State and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for NOAA and the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands to institutionalize capacity building and cooperation in marine and coastal sciences in the future.
  • Supporting the development of the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program’s (CRCP) International Strategy for 2010-2015.  The strategy was developed in response to recommendations from an external review to strengthen and expand the CRCP’s international coral reef conservation efforts. It was designed to bring more focus to international activities and regions where the CRCP can have the greatest impact by building on NOAA’s strengths, partnership development, and leveraging resources and expertise. The strategy’s major focus will be to support activities related to marine protected area capacity building in four key international regions: the wider Caribbean, Micronesia, Samoa and the Southwest Pacific, and the Coral Triangle.
  • Providing support for an arrangement with Korea to implement ecosystem approaches to management. IPO provided oversight and promoted a cooperative program involving five of NOAA’s line offices representing a $500,000 transfer of funds from Korea to NOAA. Activities included short- to medium-term exchanges in areas such as oil spill modeling, harmful algal bloom research, marine protected area management, integrated coastal and watershed management, fisheries research and assessment, ocean and coastal observations and data exchange, aquaculture, and training. Several Korean nationals received training in public policy and resource management in the U.S. and at NOAA. 

    An annual work plan was developed for 2010 and the overarching arrangement is in effect until December 2011. The arrangement is with two ministries – the Ministry of Land Transport and Maritime Affairs and the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry. The U.S. Chairperson is the Director of IPO. The arrangement has been praised as a model for NOAA to use internationally in promoting effective stewardship for ecosystem approaches to management.

  • Working with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Region on a range of activities. IPO was successful in gaining adoption of a NOAA proposal for a region-wide initiative to demonstrate approaches for nutrients and sediment reduction at selected pilot study areas in the wider Caribbean by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Region (IOCARIBE). Subsequently, international donors, including The Global Environment Facility and Inter-American Development Bank, encouraged proposals to fund the IOCARIBE initiative. In addition, the IPO Director was re-elected as an IOCARIBE Vice Chair.
  • Supporting the U.S. Delegation on International Seabed Authority Regulations. In 2009, IPO staff provided NOAA coordination and input to the U.S. Delegation at the 15th Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) meeting in Kingston, Jamaica.  ISBA is an autonomous organization established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to manage deep seabed mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction. NOAA reviews ISBA regulations and provides input to the U.S. Delegation to ensure regulations are aligned with U.S. regulatory procedures, protective of U.S. mining interests in the international seabed, and reflective of NOAA’s role as a steward of the oceans. NOS led the development of an issue paper on an ISBA proposal to establish a network of protected areas in the deep seabed of the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone located in the central Pacific.
  • Providing international training for establishing resilient marine protected area networks. IPO, with the support of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)-World Commission on Protected Areas and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, organized a pre-conference training workshop on Principles and Practices for Establishing Resilient Marine Protected Area (MPA) Networks. The 2.5-day training workshop was attended by 30 people representing more than 10 different countries and regions around the world. This workshop addressed methods and practices for establishing resilient MPA networks. Participants had the opportunity to present their experiences and to learn aspects such as identifying key stakeholders, prioritizing management issues, using decision-support tools to determine suitable management mechanisms, designing a science-based MPA network, building leadership capacity, and outlining financial strategies.  Several IUCN products developed in support with IPO were also presented at the meeting, including a guidebook on MPA management effectiveness evaluation and the guidebook on establishing resilient MPA networks.