Advancing Marine Connectivity Science for the Ocean We Want


The COST Action Unifying Approaches to Marine Connectivity for improved Resource Management for the Seas , SEA-UNICORN has just been endorsed as an official “Decade Action” of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030  – ‘The Ocean Decade’.

Marine connectivity

Coordinated by the UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the UN Ocean Decade provides a cooperative worldwide framework to ensure that global ocean science fully supports countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The aim of this collective effort, illustrated by its slogan ‘The science we need for the ocean we want’, is to revolution ocean science to help resolving some of the world’s most pressing challenges and trigger a step change in humanity’s relationship with the ocean.  

Endorsed “Decade Actions” are innovative programmes, projects or activities identified as key for developing the knowledge and partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030.

The SEA-UNICORN COST Action – Decade Action 221

This vast international networking initiative aims to advance knowledge and unify concepts and approaches in the emerging field of Marine Functional Connectivity. This will provide the data needed to support the conservation and sustainable management of the seas. Marine Functional Connectivity (MFC) characterises the flows of matter, genes and energy produced by marine organism movements/migrations at sea but also at the land-sea interface. As such, it determines the ecological and evolutionary interdependency of populations, and ultimately the fate of species and ecosystems.

Gathering effective knowledge on MFC can substantially improve predictions of environmental change impacts and help refine management and conservation strategies for the oceans and seas. Indeed, a thorough understanding of the connectivity among marine populations and habitats is key not only for positioning effective networks of protected areas and conserve vulnerable species and ecosystems, but also for controlling the spread of invasive species, pathogens, and aquaculture escapees, and promoting sustainable fisheries’ management.

This task is challenging because marine ecosystems are particularly difficult to access and survey. Currently, many institutions investigate MFC worldwide, by using complementary methods from multiple research fields to understand the ecology and evolution of marine species. SEA-UNICORN aims at coordinating their research to unify the varied approaches to MFC and integrate them under a common conceptual and analytical framework for improved management of marine resources and ecosystems.

To this aim, the consortium brings together a broad interdisciplinary community of scientists, stakeholders, and policymakers, from more than 100 organisations spread in 45[a1]  countries. In the coming years, they will foster interdisciplinary collaborations, and share expertise at local, regional, and international levels to revolution our understanding of the past, present, and future distribution of marine biodiversity and its role in the healthy functioning of ecosystems, at sea and at the land-sea interface.

sea unicorn

“I am proud to see our efforts to unify research and advance knowledge recognized at this level. We are honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to this unprecedented worldwide effort to shape Marine Science for improved Ocean management. I’ve always genuinely believed that our activities would effectively help tackling the 10 Challenges for collective impact of the UN Ocean Decade, but this endorsement opens many new opportunities for collaborations and knowledge transfer. I can’t wait to see where this will take us.” says the Action’s Chair, Dr Audrey Darnaude from the CNRS, MARBEC, Montpellier – France.

Further Reading

Ocean Decade endorses new wave of Actions across the globe – Ocean Decade

SEA-UNICORN endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade

Advancing knowledge on marine connectivity is key to support transition to a sustainable blue economy

Looking ahead

6th International Marine Connectivity Conference (

Next December 6 – 8, 2021, the 6th International Marine Connectivity Conference will take place in Paris, France. This conference marks the start of a new and exciting stage in the development of an international network for promoting collaborative projects among European scientists interested in the study of marine connectivity and its ecological and economical consequences.

Additional information.

To learn more about the Action, its network and its objectives, please visit its new website ( or the Action’s page on the COST website.

Feature image – courtesy of UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development