Challenge Areas

Table of Contents

  1. Align Efforts, Plans, and Funding Around Shared Priorities
  2. Advance the Sharing of Infrastructure
  3. Science in Support of Public Policy, Regulation, and Decision Making
  4. Encourage Innovation and the Commercialization of Knowledge and Technology
  5. Work Towards a Cohesive Voice for the Ocean Science Community in International Fora
  6. Communicate Ocean Science and Technology

The larger community building sessions provided by the key note speakers were complemented in the program by smaller discussions targeting specific challenges and opportunities, seeking to advance initiatives within each of the six challenge areas. Discussions within each of the six challenge areas considered the “preferred future” statements developed at the ORCA 2017 workshop: the future the community would like to collectively work towards, in terms of the coordination on OST in Canada. The challenge area sessions were followed by a special panel session that focussed on discussions to advance initiatives and determine paths forward and these discussions were guided by three key questions: 

  • What were the key outcomes of the session discussions?
  • What are the paths forward on these initiatives?
  • How have the discussions in this challenge area advanced collaboration?

Leaders have stepped forward from within the ORCA community to lead efforts on the six challenge areas. These individuals serve as key contacts within the Canadian OST community for information on the challenge area and for efforts associated with its development.

1. Align Efforts, Plans, and Funding Around Shared Priorities

Preferred Future

“The OST community has rallied around a common, inclusive vision that is accepted by members and decision makers. Greater mutual understanding and alignment has facilitated the leveraging of assets. Funding mechanisms for research and infrastructure are more harmonized, and effectively support the sharing and use of infrastructure. Resources (e.g., information and facilities) and costs (e.g., maintenance) are shared. As ORCA facilitates communication and creates closer connections, funding agencies are putting more money into the sector, recognizing the value of increased collaboration. The coordination of research through ORCA, including national and international at-sea efforts, has increased Canada’s credibility at international meetings. The public supports ORCA’s forward-looking plans, as Canadians become more knowledgeable about the sustainability of our ocean” Footnote 1.

What were the Key Outcomes of the Session Discussions?

This challenge area hosted three panel discussions dealing with a diverse range of planning, funding and networking opportunities (see Appendix C for session abstracts) on the following topics:

The opening session focused on discussions of the funding opportunities provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), as well as the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI).  It was acknowledged that across Canada and around the world, universities and colleges are changing, adapting and actively seeking to shape the evolving nature and scope of scientific research. Within the universities and outside, more researchers and research users find that cross-sectoral collaborations, inter-agency and inter-departmental collaborations are increasingly essential to success and are, arguably, the new normal. The CFI provided an overview of key CFI investments in infrastructure and Operating and Maintenance costs of ocean research projects and facilities, highlighting collaborations and networks (national and international).

The second session in this challenge area focussed on the new multi-partner Science Enterprise Centres at two DFO facilities: the Gulf Fisheries Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick and the Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research in West Vancouver, British Columbia. These Science Enterprise Centres are becoming innovative, collaborative research hubs fostering partnerships between the scientific and academic communities, Indigenous peoples, business groups, government partners, non-government organizations and the public.

The final session provided examples of Canada’s existing ocean networks, and shared ideas on opportunities for better alignment and coordination of these networks. It is increasingly recognized that nations are turning to large multi-disciplinary networks that unite researchers from the natural and social sciences and draw on academia, industry, government, indigenous groups and local communities as a means to provide evidence for policy and decision making.   Canada has invested in a number of world-class ocean networks that provide integrated knowledge about key interests and greatly build on existing strengths. These networks – even when pan-Canadian or globally reaching – address specialized and well-defined problems and collect different types of data. Yet they may also overlap: in geographic areas, equipment used, and in analytical approaches that would benefit from better collaborations and new alignments among the networks.   The unique needs and approaches from Aboriginal communities were highlighted as they develop research projects based on communities’ needs and work towards self-determination. In addition, the importance of sharing information and data, both on infrastructure and research, was reinforced.  

Discussions examined the opportunities, as well as the challenges, presented by these diverse initiatives and how the Canadian OST community could respond in a manner that increases collaboration around shared priorities.

What are the Paths Forward?

  • The ORCA Community SharePoint Platform was seen as a critical piece in the forward actions of ORCA. The Platform has the potential to encourage the culture of collaboration and cooperation that would advance the alignment of efforts, plans and funding around shared priorities. The Platform should be expanded to include:
    • Information on the mandates of OST-based federal government departments and other agencies. This would be an opportunity to share knowledge and experiences and enlighten others on the work that is being performed.
    • Details on ocean-related activities that would engage the ORCA community, increase the awareness of actions and initiatives that are being undertaken so as to share and promote opportunities of collaboration. Discussions linked to the challenge area on communication of OST.
    • The new Science Enterprise Centres (SEC) represent a new space for collaboration in Canada. The two pilot SEC projects currently underway represent new collaboration approaches with local stakeholders (e.g. mayors, schools and local levels of government). The efforts of the SECs should be shared on the ORCA Platform to profile the lessons learned and experiences gained so that the whole community can benefit from these.
    • An OST funding database could be created for Canada to assemble relevant information on all ocean science-specific funding opportunities in one location. Information could include funding programs from granting agencies, government, etc. Timelines, eligibility criteria and other important information could be included. This would make the information more accessible to all community members, and encourage further alignment of efforts.
    • It is important that momentum from this ORCA meeting should carry forward over the coming months and not wait for another meeting one year from now. The ORCA Platform could host discussion groups or forums that could be used to advance efforts during the year for further discussion at another face-to-face ORCA meeting.
  • An Implementation Working Group could be created within ORCA that will advance the work and efforts of the ORCA Council. The Implementation Working Group could be a working and networking group that would facilitate coordination within ORCA and would advance efforts between annual ORCA meetings.
  • In the longer-term, as this challenge area looked to the more distant future, it was recommended that the development of a National Ocean Science Strategy should be an objective for Canada. A Canadian National Ocean Strategy could set and identify common science priorities across Canada and have enable the OST community to work collaboratively towards common objectives.

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2. Advance the Sharing of Infrastructure

Preferred Future

“Canada has a long-term plan for world-class ocean infrastructureFootnote 2 that is resilient, looking beyond short-term government and political priorities.

A better collaborative process for priority setting, issue identification, and research planning serves to identify infrastructure needs. With new ships on board, the community manages infrastructure in a collective manner. There are shared ocean resources and infrastructure, such as the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) opened by Polar Knowledge Canada in 2017. Stakeholders have a clear understanding of partners’ inventories and capacity, and there are effective mechanisms to manage, share and store data. The sharing of infrastructure has triggered productive partnerships. Low cost, creative solutions to infrastructure maximize the value of existing capacity, while continuing to look for improved ways to build new capacity” Footnote 3.

What were the Key Outcomes of the Session Discussions?

This challenge area hosted five panel discussions dealing with sharing of infrastructure (see Appendix C for session abstracts) on the following topics:

The opening session discussed the benefits and challenges of coordinated and collaborative ocean observing. It was acknowledged that Canada has many ocean observation activities and infrastructure, but these are loosely-aligned and many are not sustainable. On a national scale, programs need coordination to bring together the data from many sources: buoys measuring wind and waves, ships surveying fish stocks, and satellites providing the view from above. The investment in ocean observing will pay off in greater amounts with better coordination and collaboration which requires an integrative, ambitious approach.

The second and third sessions addressed the challenges of increasing vessel capacity for at-sea research at a time when new demands for scientific observations and advice are coinciding with declining infrastructure capacity. Discussions examined the existing situation and prognosis, then discussed plans and opportunities for new approaches to increasing research vessel capacity with a special focus on vessels that can support multidisciplinary research and complex deployments in Canada’s Arctic and offshore. The situation reinforces the need for a national-level mechanism to better coordinate access to existing research vessels across ocean research organizations and for a shared strategic vision for the operation of current and new infrastructure. Infrastructure coordination and sharing is not new – key examples of how ocean science communities have come together to pool resources and work collaboratively were presented.

The fourth session examined observation infrastructure, noting that the ability to make ocean measurements has greatly expanded over the past several decades. New platforms have emerged with sensors that can now reach beyond temperature and salinity to chlorophyll, nutrients and other biogeochemical and biological properties. Discussions concluded that in Canada, scientists must work together to better share the systems that are in place but which are spread across the geography and the institutions whether it be governmental, private or academic sectors. The panelists also reviewed the present capability for fixed and mobile measurements, considered some of the sensors presently under development and the opportunities for the future.

The fifth session within the challenge area focussed on ocean science data. Ocean science increasingly relies on sophisticated sensing technologies producing large volumes of data that needs to be standardized, quality controlled, discoverable, and accessible. The session covered the case for harmonized national approaches to ocean data management, coordination and communication aspects of research data management, international standards and Canadian leadership, and the potential for university- industry-government partnership in ocean data science. The need to facilitate Indigenous organizations in sharing ocean data was also acknowledged as valuable.

Over the five sessions, the discussions highlighted that while there is a strong impetus to move forward on sharing of infrastructure, there is currently some inertia that must be addressed. In the short-term, it was recognized that there should be some smaller scale initiatives that would help build momentum together with some longer-term objectives and goals that this community could rally around. Infrastructure was described as the great “convenor” as discussions on infrastructure brought together expertise relating to vessels, OST equipment, laboratories and data as well.

In moving forward, discussions noted that there are best practices in existence that can be tapped into to build and increase capacity within Canada. It was also recognized that newly emerging  global ocean opportunities – for example, the G7 focus on oceans and ocean observing – are opportunities that should be leveraged within the Canadian OST community.  Finally, the Community of Practice campaign approach was seen as a reasonable approach that can move forward by building on manageable pieces of work that build success.

What are the Paths Forward?

  • A collaborative inventory of infrastructure utilized by the Canadian OST community should be compiled, including equipment. This inventory should be shared across the ORCA community to promote increased collaboration surrounding the assets available in the county.
  • ORCA should work with the newly emerging Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System (CIOOS). CIOOS will be built through a public, private and academic partnership that will bring together and leverage existing Canadian and International ocean observation data/programs/projects. The initiative is built on similar principles as ORCA – sharing, collaboration and coordination. As CIOOS evolves, it will generate value-added data products on an open web-based platform that maximizes utility to end-users, and provide timely access to a broad range of environmental information. This is an initiative in which ORCA could promote and participate.
  • Efforts need to be made to reach out to the Indigenous and local community levels to increase their participation in the sharing of both infrastructure and data. The OST community in these areas is large and very diverse in Canada with all sectors and levels of government having different assets. This makes sharing and collaboration challenging; however, efforts need to be made to be inclusive of others who have valuable assets to contribute.
  • The status quo for research vessels in Canada is not sustainable. Canada is faced with aging research fleet and increasing demands on limited infrastructure. This is a priority area for ORCA to address both within and external to the ORCA community. ORCA could enable the OST community to speak with one voice, to develop and to present solutions.

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3. Science in Support of Public Policy, Regulation, and Decision Making

Preferred Future

“Government uses ocean science results generated outside of Government as part of its evidence base, and departments have a strategy to internalize how external OST is used to inform policy. Relationships and networks contribute to effective collaborative work and integration between government and external agencies. The Canadian Ice Service (CIS) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) relationship is an example of this, where CSA acts as a conduit through which the entire space industry/knowledge domain is accessed. In the future, knowledge sharing mechanisms and efficiencies that already exist between government, industry and the academic sector will be leveraged fully, resulting in high levels of cooperation and trust. University academics also ensure that their research fits within DFO priority areas; that it is aligned with public policy considerations, and the requirements of users from both industry and government. Robust communication systems that include collaborative discussion on priorities, and standards for data access and management, are in place to facilitate community engagement, and the coordination of research needs”Footnote 4.

What were the Key Outcomes of the Session Discussions?

This challenge area hosted four panel discussions dealing with science in support of public policy, regulation and decision making (see Appendix C for session abstracts) on the following topics:

The first panel presented a series of federal government departments which make use of OST research products as the underpinning for their policy and decision making.  It was agreed that more effective collaboration across the entirety of the Canadian ocean science ecosystem will be to improve the overall alignment between the products of research programming produced by ocean science practitioners, and the information and advice required by managers and policy-makers in support of regulations and decision-making.

The second panel in this challenge area explored the emerging knowledge gaps, the policy questions, and research requirements and challenges for the Arctic Ocean, from the perspectives of northerners and other Arctic Ocean knowledge experts.  As the climate warms and open water in the Arctic Ocean becomes more prevalent, new challenges emerge, and the policy and regulatory environments need to keep pace. Issues related to potential future activities in the Arctic Ocean were highlighted and assessed, and key knowledge gaps explored.

The third panel brought together geological, physical and biological oceanographers, as well as ocean managers to discuss the issues related to integrating seabed geological mapping into marine spatial planning initiatives. It was agreed that integrating geological information into marine spatial planning and issues management requires a culture of collaboration that is presently only partially developed at the local level, but is not systematically supported by public policy.

The fourth panel in this Session focussed on achieving better decision making by linking natural and social sciences.  It was reinforced that decisions about the ocean, its uses and its future cannot be made without knowledge both of natural sciences and of the human dimensions (economic, social, cultural, institutional, legal, and other aspects). While the federal government has little capability at present to provide the knowledge needed on the human dimensions of the ocean, there is strong expertise in Canadian educational institutions and many Indigenous and NGO organizations. Discussions acknowledged the challenges of initiating and sustaining linkages of natural sciences and social sciences, as well as the role of the humanities, and the role of Indigenous, local and ocean user knowledge sources. In addition, education/outreach was also mentioned in this session as being important to increase uptake of science.

Over the course of the panel discussions in this challenge area, several key points emerged. The first related to the need to encourage awareness and to inform sharing of data and of knowledge, ranging from the local, to regional, to national and international scales. It can be overwhelming to understand the diversity of data, knowledge and ways of knowing that exist within Canada but it needs to be brought together into a synthesis. The need for Indigenous communities to be engaged in science in support of public policy, regulation and decision-making needs to be emphasized and encouraged. Many Canadian communities, and particularly those in northern Canada, are coastal (on the ocean – land interface) and their science needs must be addressed.

A second point arising from this challenge area was the need to encourage a more inclusive approach of generating science in support of public policy. This inclusive approach should focus on spending more time listening to the needs of users, including Indigenous people. It is acknowledged that there is a great diversity across the three coasts of Canada but at the same time there are commonalities such as the rapid rate of change in all of Canada’s oceans.  Understanding the needs of Canadians will help ensure that the correct questions and issues are being addressed by the science. This is how new knowledge is created for better policies and decisions and ultimately will serve Canadians better.

What are the Paths Forward?

  • A diversity of science knowledge - natural, social and Indigenous knowledge- should be brought together in support of public policy, regulation and decision making in OST. There is a need in Canada to build capacity on how to work collaboratively together and to provide improved science advice. This capacity could be developed by ORCA with tangible actions, such as collaborative training and workshops that would bring governments, academia and local communities together from across the diversity of sciences.
  • The timelines to develop science support for policy making can be lengthy (time needed to monitor, research and extrapolate findings) and does not necessarily align with the often-times shorter political and financial timelines. It is, therefore, important for policy to be adaptive to accommodate changing science. ORCA could work to bridge this science-policy gap with workshops and training so that science and policy makers could better understand one another and better coordinate activities that would lead to improved regulations and decisions.
  • One proposed initiative from the 2017 ORCA workshop was the hosting of an annual ORCA conference to present government priorities along with advances in ocean research. This 2018 meeting of ORCA represents a good step forward on this initiative and similar meetings should continue on an annual basis.

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4. Encourage Innovation and the Commercialization of Knowledge and Technology

Preferred Future

“Canada remains a world leader in collecting ocean data. Data is made public in real time; and people are trained to use ocean science data. Open data helps to tackle the commercialization issue, by helping to nurture private enterprises that want to conduct research and generate commercial activity in the sector. New technologies deliver advances in science, and create global opportunities for Canadian ocean technology. Industry connects more quickly to researchers with the ability to create knowledge that can be commercialized.

Identified key players in the commercialization of knowledge and technology find creative ways to increase market potential. The engagement and involvement of communities and users of OST have brought resilience to the system. A more resilient ocean science innovation system has also brought new investments. Commercialization to larger markets cycles back to support research and technology in a positive feedback loop.

Enhanced communications and integrated networks that link government departments, provinces, Indigenous organizations, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the country bring attention to national challenges, make better use of existing experts, and also create new career opportunities in OST” Footnote 5.

What were the Key Outcomes of the Session Discussions?

This challenge area hosted three panel discussions dealing with innovation and commercialization of knowledge and technology (see Appendix C for session abstracts) on the following topics:

Some of the major new initiatives in Canada that will provide significant opportunities for collaboration in the ocean technology sector nationally were presented in the first panel. New initiatives included The Ocean Technology Alliance of Canada, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster and the Oceans Protection Plan. Discussions then examined opportunities presented by these initiatives for collaboration between industry, academic and government organizations.

The second panel looked at the challenges in marine technology development in Canada, focussing on gaining a better understanding of some of the issues which can be addressed to enhance the commercialization of ocean knowledge and technology. Aspects of the discussions included improved communication and coordination mechanisms among Canadian Ocean S&T enterprises.

The third panel examined ocean technology opportunities in Canada. Ocean technology is inherent in a number of classical vertical sectors such as marine defence and security, ocean observation, marine energy (both renewables and extractive), marine transportation, marine tourism, capture fisheries and aquaculture. As such, a number of specific supply chains can be identified in these vertical sectors; offshore oil and subsea, defence surveillance, ocean science, shipbuilding and onboard systems, biotechnology, and fisheries and aquaculture.

Discussions in this challenge area highlighted the need for communication and working together to address the current programs that exist now and to better understand the capabilities of different groups.  The Oceans Technology Alliance of Canada (OTAC) has stepped forward and self-identified as a leader to work with other sectors of government and academia to increase collaboration specifically with the industry sector.

The need for prioritization and coordination was also reported as valuable, given that sectors in oceans technology have different drivers – government has mandated responsibilities including some financial assistance programs, while industry has competitiveness as their driver. It is important to understand how to access funding opportunities as new programs continually emerge.

Finally, the recent creation of the Oceans Supercluster is seen as an opportunity for the advancement of oceans innovation and commercialization. As the Supercluster evolves over the coming months, it could play a significant role in increasing coordination.

What are the Paths Forward?

  • Knowledge mobilization plans and strategies are now required by all organizations receiving funding from any of the tri-council agencies. These knowledge mobilization plans represent an opportunity to bring diverse sectors together, including the various sectors within the OST community, including governments, academia, technology and private sectors, not-for-profit organizations, Indigenous governments and local coastal communities. New working groups could be formed within ORCA with the mandate to further develop how this knowledge mobilization focus could be advanced with the OST community. Knowledge mobilization plans and strategies could be the central theme for future meetings.
  • ORCA should work with the regional development agencies to encourage innovation and commercialization of OST. The regional development agencies (e.g. Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and others) serve as a hub for bringing the industry sector together with government and academia. ORCA could co-host meetings and events with the development agencies, as a step in increasing understanding and collaboration of various perspectives.

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5. Work Towards a Cohesive Voice for the Ocean Science Community in International Fora

Preferred Future

“Canada is well represented by experts at key international fora, and speaks with one voice that represents the vision of the ocean community. Opportunities to participate in conferences and meetings are identified, prioritized, and coordinated. ORCA engages with other groups within Canada and with Global Affairs Canada to identify entry points into a few select meetings, and ensure optimal representation. Canadian ocean research priorities inform and shape international engagements (i.e. with networks like the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES)).

ORCA plays a leadership role to coordinate national participation in the international Our Ocean conferences. Knowledge gained by sending delegates to conferences internationally is disseminated in Canada. A key to this success is properly funded research priorities and well established connections with the SME community in Canada. Canadians continue to be sought after as global leaders and partners in international projects. ORCA works with leaders from both developed and developing nations to develop shared resources on big-ticket research initiatives”Footnote 7.

What were the Key Outcomes of the Session Discussions?

This challenge area hosted three panel discussions dealing with international fora (see Appendix C for session abstracts) on the following topics:

The first panel illustrated why Canadian researchers, ocean stakeholders, and representatives from the public and private sector should engage in collaborative endeavours with Europe given the significant investments in the Horizon 2020 (H2020) Programme (the European Union's biggest Research and Innovation Framework Programme with nearly EUR 80 billion of funding available over 7 years). While there are no direct funds available to Canadians in H2020, it is possible to participate through “mirror projects” with some support actions available.  In addition, the Canada - European Union - United States Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA), established by the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation, was highlighted as a framework for creating opportunities across and along the Atlantic Ocean.

The second panel explored the upcoming Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development that will be held from 2021 to 2030.  This initiative was announced during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly with an intent to reverse the decline in ocean health by identifying actions that will ensure marine environments are developed in a sustainable way. The discussions examined ways in which an integrated and cooperative approach could be effective at resolving challenges to our oceans.  Of note, potential major science breakthroughs of the UN Decade would be to achieve mapping of the entire oceans floor and to develop deep ocean observing systems.  It was discussed that there needs to be a shift in the perspective on the ocean, to recognize that it is a single ocean system and that climate change has highlighted an enormous need to change the way in which oceans are observed.  The need to engage with Indigenous communities was emphasized as crucial for realizing UN Decade goals. Indigenous communities have a large body of Indigenous Knowledge that is evolving, as is the Indigenous capacity to do collaborative research and management.

The third panel examined international fora where Canada is playing a leading role in the discussion of advancing oceans science and which represent key platforms for working together to advance oceans goals. These new initiatives are wide ranging and include Canada’s G7 Presidency, a Youth Challenge on Oceans, and the Commonwealth Blue Charter to which Canada has committed to serve in the role of Champion.  Canada’s work towards achieving the UN 2030 Agenda goals – Sustainable Development Goal 14 – to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development was also discussed.  

Discussions noted that there is currently a wealth of opportunities for international OST collaboration; however, there needs to be greater clarity on the platforms and mechanisms available to Canada’s OST community for engaging with the international community to address national and global OST challenges.

What are the Paths Forward?

  • An inventory of international fora for OST should be created in order to prioritize and coordinate Canada’s participation in, and sharing of information into and out of, these meetings. While the community would not be able to engage on all international initiatives, the community could review the inventory and together determine the greatest priority and focus on these efforts. The creation of a board or committee, with members from within ORCA could serve as a mechanism for coordinating input for international fora.
  • The ORCA Platform has the potential to be an excellent tool to promote collaboration in OST and the community needs to learn how to effectively use it. Specific projects to be advanced on the ORCA Platform include the following:
    • Information on the Horizon 2020 funded projects and Canada’s mirror projects, which could be shared across the Canadian community.
    • Summaries of meetings outcomes should be prepared and posted form when members of the Canadian oceans community attend international meetings. This will enable the broader OST community to be kept current and knowledgeable of recent developments and initiatives.
  • ORCA should have a role to play in defining the scope of how Canadian OST engages with the diverse international oceans science and technology opportunities. The Ocean Frontier Institute offered to share their networks to help advance Canada’s work towards the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The scope of international engagement needs to include both a youth and a gender lens. It was noted that not all engagement efforts need to be done at a national level; efforts at the sub-national level might be appropriate for some actions.
  • The new Commonwealth Blue Charter is an unparalleled opportunity for Canada to be a global leader in oceans. In addition, the recent national investments in ocean related initiatives, including the Oceans Protection Plan, the Ocean Frontiers Institute, and the Oceans Supercluster, all represent tremendous opportunities to be built upon. ORCA should assist in bringing the diverse sectors of Canadian OST together to both drive and help leverage Canadian efforts on these international agenda.

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6. Communicate Ocean Science and Technology

Preferred Future

“Establish regular communications between governments, Indigenous ocean science organizations, universities and non-governmental organizations to foster the integration of knowledge and skills of all stakeholders to support decision-making. An improved culture of communication would support the coordination of “big picture” innovation opportunities instead of piece-meal projects”[7].

What were the Key Outcomes of the Session Discussions?

The ORCA workshop in 2017 articulated challenges to collaboration on ocean science, and described a preferred future as stated above. One of the cross-cutting issues identified to reach this preferred future centred on communication and the challenge to find information about ocean science activities and to create a national forum to discuss ocean science.

Over the course of the 2018 ORCA meeting, this challenge area held three panel discussions dealing with communication (see Appendix C for session abstracts) on the following topics:

In order for ORCA to successfully meet its goals, ORCA must be inclusive, resilient, open and transparent. In the first session, the ORCA Community SharePoint Platform was introduced. The Platform is OST community owned and driven (it is not a government website) and provides a high degree of functionality and relevance to advance ORCA’s goals. This online tool can facilitate coordination and engagement, and improve communications and flow of information. The ORCA Community Platform goes well beyond document management: it is a rich platform that can enable collaborative efforts through tools such as the shared community calendar (tracking engagement on OST), the partnership wiki (identifying partnership opportunities) and the organization and members lists (connecting members). The ORCA Community Platform will be most effective if it continues to be relevant to the OST community (targeted and useful applications) and if it is easy-to-use (accessibility). To facilitate ease of use, both engagement of ORCA members and additional outreach will be necessary.

In the second panel in the challenge area, the discussion focused on how the Canadian OST community can collaborate to improve how scientific knowledge is shared with, and how to engage with, Canadians. It was recognized that knowledge brokers are important in the communication of science as they can act as connectors between research and public receptors.  It is understandable that scientists have their own science efforts as top priority; however, communication of this science often lags too far behind. It is valuable to raise the profile of the need for science communications and provide training to scientists in this area. Another challenge that was flagged in this discussion was the need for ORCA to be Indigenous inclusive, including Northern Indigenous communities. It was noted that fifty of the fifty-two communities in the Canada’s Arctic are coastal communities with citizens having extensive knowledge of the ocean.

The third panel in this challenge area focused on how to increase the effective communication of OST knowledge and how to collaborate across specific sectors of influence to find new ways to advance understanding of oceans by the general public. There was an opportunity to discuss the development of an Ocean Literacy Roadmap as a means to advance ocean literacy in Canada. The concept of ocean literacy ties together the scientific, socio- economic, and cultural dimensions of the human relationship with the ocean, and is strongly linked to ocean-positive behaviours and informed decision-making. Strategically developing ocean literacy activities in Canada, and around the world, is essential for making progress towards almost all UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 targets and for establishing a sustainable human-ocean dynamic.

Discussions in this challenge area of OST communication were dynamic and highly interactive. The breadth of participants and expertise in the discussions provided for several engagement strategies for building a culture of collaboration.

What are the Paths Forward?

  • There is a need for the ORCA Community SharePoint Platform to grow and to become increasingly relevant and easy-to-use by the entire community. The following actions were identified in this regard.
    • The ORCA platform would benefit from an Engagement Strategy that will encourage new ideas to be added to the content and promote increased access. In addition to an Engagement Strategy, a Marketing Strategy is needed to develop marketing tools that are focussed and directed on OST.
    • Associated with an Engagement Strategy must be a training module for individuals to learn about how to most effectively use the ORCA platform. There is also a need to engage further with communities and Indigenous people across Canada in the co-production of knowledge and information for the ORCA platform.
    • A Working Group should be created, composed of ORCA community members, to build engagement in the development and use of web platforms, including the existing one and any future alternatives.
    • An inventory of best practice tools and templates for communicating science to the public should be created and made available to the Canadian OST community.
  • A public website on ORCA should be developed that would be in addition to, and augment, the ORCA Community Platform. This website could be the public hub of OST in Canada and could increase the breadth of partners within ORCA and its public profile.
  • An Ocean Literacy Plan should be advanced that would be applicable to all three coasts of Canada and would embrace knowledge holders from all sectors, including Indigenous peoples. One priority within this Plan would be to encourage a national coalition of champions. Several of the existing oceans networks are already working on aspects of the ocean literacy and that this work could be the basis for the national ORCA efforts.
  • Knowledge mobilization and knowledge exchange should be considered as a possible theme for a future ORCA meeting. An event on knowledge exchange could include the need for effective communications and bring in expert science communicators from a broad and diverse perspective. There could be presentations on a suite of communication tools, and best practices that have emerged elsewhere including use of live streaming, FaceBook and other social media opportunities.
  • ORCA should seek a means to capture public attention on oceans and to engage the public around a gateway topic such as ocean plastics which is currently garnering extensive international media attention.
  • Training opportunities in communications should be offered to scientists to facilitate their ability to reach broader public audiences beyond their specific science community.

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