Many actors, working together internationally, are needed to bring about sustainable management of the oceans that is informed by sound science, underpinned by a comprehensive global ocean measurement system.

These include:

  • National governments working individually and through intergovernmental structures and bodies – who are agents for political action and international consensus and support the governance framework for international cooperation.
  • Non-governmental organisations aimed at coordinating science, influencing policy and/or raising public awareness at regional and global scales.
  • The wider scientific community, working nationally and internationally – who undertake research, share and synthesise ideas and findings and identify key scientific challenges and develop internationally agreed research agendas.
  • Funders of research and monitoring programmes whether they be governments, businesses or not for profit foundations – who provide the resources needed.
  • Individual citizens working individually and collectively whose support and desire for a better life and world provides continuing motivation and inspiration for all involved.

Within this landscape, we as members of POGO individually have distinctive roles and collectively have a unique role. 

Our aim is to focus on actions based on our unique individual and collective capabilities as described.  It is not our aim to duplicate or replicate work that can or should be done by other organisations with other relevant competencies. 

We have particularly close and complementary relationships with two bodies providing overarching frameworks for global observations, namely UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission governed Global Ocean Observing System (IOC-GOOS) and the Group on Earth Observations’ Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEO-GEOSS). We also work closely with a number of non-governmental, international organisations (such as the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, SCOR) and receive valuable support from foundations (such as the Nippon, Sloan and Lounsbery Foundations).

For more information on ocean organisations and how they are connected visit:

Partner Organisations

GEO (Group on Earth Observations)

GEO is a partnership of more than 100 national governments and in excess of 100 Participating Organizations that envisions a future where decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations.

GEO is a unique global network connecting government institutions, academic and research institutions, data providers, businesses, engineers, scientists and experts to create innovative solutions to global challenges at a time of exponential data growth, human development and climate change that transcend national and disciplinary boundaries. The unprecedented global collaboration of experts helps identify gaps and reduce duplication in the areas of sustainable development and sound environmental management.

POGO attended the very first meeting of GEO in Washington DC in 2003, during which it was recognised as a contributing organisation with a unique role to play, particularly with regard to representing in situ ocean observing. Since then POGO has been a Participating Organisation in GEO and instrumental in advocating for the inclusion of the ocean realm within GEO, which led to the creation of GEO Blue Planet.

GEO Blue Planet

The creation of the “Oceans and Society: Blue Planet” Task was an initiative of the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO) in 2011, to bring together all the existing ocean observation programmes within GEO, to add new ones to the GEO portfolio, and to create synergies between them. This has evolved into the “GEO Blue Planet Initiative”, which has a demonstrated capacity to bridge the gap between data and services to deliver usable information that supports end-users for informed decision-making toward reaching sustainable development of the world’s marine resources. POGO continues to work with and support GEO Blue Planet, particularly through the joint Oceanscape project and through the participation of the POGO CEO in the GEO Blue Planet Steering Committee (as Co-Chair from 2017-2020).


The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) is a sustained collaborative system of ocean observations, encompassing in situ networks, satellite systems, governments, UN agencies and individual scientists. It is organised around a series of components undertaking requirements assessment, observing implementation, innovation through projects, and a core team.

POGO works with and supports IOC/GOOS in advancing global ocean observing through the collective endeavours of its member institutions, which represent most of the world’s ocean observing capacity. POGO’s work is made complementary to that of GOOS by focusing more specifically on innovation, capacity development and outreach/advocacy for ocean observations.

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) promotes international cooperation and coordinates programmes in marine research, services, observation systems, hazard mitigation, and capacity development in order to understand and effectively manage the resources of the ocean and coastal areas. By applying this knowledge, the Commission aims to improve the governance, management, institutional capacity, and decision-making processes of its Member States with respect to marine resources and climate variability and to foster sustainable development of the marine environment, in particular in developing countries.

POGO participates as an Observer at IOC Assemblies, and has collaborated with IOC on a number of programmes, including capacity development and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. POGO works particularly closely with the International Ocean Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme of IOC, for example on the ocean data management module at the NF-POGO Centre of Excellence.

SCOR (Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research)

The International Council for Science (ICSU) formed the Special Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) in 1957 to help address interdisciplinary science questions related to the ocean. SCOR was the first interdisciplinary body formed by ICSU. SCOR’s name was later changed to “Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research” to reflect its more permanent status.

SCOR activities focus on promoting international cooperation in planning and conducting oceanographic research, and solving methodological and conceptual problems that hinder research. SCOR covers all areas of ocean science and cooperates with other organizations with common interests to conduct many SCOR activities. SCOR also conducts several different activities to build the capacity for ocean science in developing countries and every SCOR activity includes members from developing countries.

POGO has always enjoyed good working relations with SCOR and collaborated on many joint programmes, including the POGO-SCOR Visiting Fellowship programme and general assessment of capacity development needs and priorities, as well as the evaluation of joint and respective training programmes. POGO co-sponsors the International Quiet Ocean Experiment, together with SCOR, and supports a number of other SCOR programmes, such as the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) and the Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) –see below.


The Alfred P Sloan Foundation

The Sloan Foundation is a US not-for-profit grant-making institution that supports high quality, impartial scientific research; fosters a robust, diverse scientific workforce; strengthens public understanding and engagement with science; and promotes the health of the institutions of scientific endeavor. Seed funding from the Sloan Foundation was instrumental in getting POGO started, by supporting the first two POGO meetings as well as by funding various workshops, the International Cruise Information Database and a video produced for the GEO Ministerial in 2007.

The Nippon Foundation

The Nippon Foundation (NF) has been the main sponsor of POGO Capacity Building programmes since 2004.  With the NF-POGO Centre of Excellence, the Ocean Training Partnership (OTP) and the NF-POGO Alumni Network for Oceans (NANO), NF and POGO are investing in young researchers from all over the world by providing a forum for training, networking and exchange.

The Richard Lounsbery Foundation

The Lounsbery Foundation was founded in 1959, with a goal to enhance US national strengths in science and technology and foster strong French-American cooperation. To this day, the Foundation has stayed true to its roots while expanding to promote science among youth and to support components of US policy issues pertaining to science. The Foundation attained a place in donor history in 2004 by becoming the first philanthropic supporter of Wikipedia. It was also instrumental in providing initial support which enabled POGO to begin life without taxing its members. More recently, a 50K USD grant supported POGO’s efforts in biological observations, leading to the establishment of the Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network (OBON), a UN Ocean Decade-endorsed programme. Further grants have provided support for the OBON annual meetings. Lounsbery also provided funding for the COLLECT (Citizen Observation of Local Litter in Coastal ECosysTems) citizen science project.



POGO helped to fund the meeting at which the Latin-American network of bio-optical oceanographers called Antares was born and led subsequently to the formation of a global-scale analogue, ChloroGIN (see below). POGO continues to collaborate with and provide support to Antares, particularly through its capacity building programmes and the NF-POGO Alumni Network for Oceans.


Around the time POGO was being started, the Argo programme was also beginning. One of the first crusades of POGO was to throw the collective weight of its members behind the world expansion of Argo. A collaboration among 50 research and operational agencies from 26 countries, Argo now has charge of more than 3,500 floats around the world’s oceans. Because the members of POGO are directors with the power to commit resources and influence decision makers, a resolution to accord full support to Argo had immediate effect, and the distribution of floats around the world ocean improved rapidly. Argo is now part of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).

Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT)

AMT is a multidisciplinary scientific programme, hosted by Plymouth Marine Laboratory in collaboration with the National Oceanographic Centre. AMT undertakes biological, chemical and physical oceanographic research during an annual voyage between the UK and the South Atlantic and provides the longest time series of oceanographic observations on an ocean-basin scale. The programme was established in 1995 and has included 21 research cruises involving over 200 scientists from 15 countries. An annual POGO-AMT fellowship is offered to candidates from developing nations to facilitate capacity building through the transfer of first-hand experience and knowledge to the benefit of the global scientific community.


ChloroGIN was created in 2006 during a workshop sponsored by POGO, GOOS, GEO, IOCCG and PML, and was inspired by the Latin American Network Antares. It aims to promote in situ chlorophyll measurements in combination with satellite-derived estimates. ChloroGIN is funded by the Canadian Space Agency, and was included as a Task within the first GEO Work Plan. It later became a component of the new GEO Task SB01 “Oceans and Society: Blue Planet” (now known as the GEO Blue Planet Initiative).


The Global Alliance of Continuous Plankton Recorder Surveys was initiated by the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) during a workshop held in Plymouth in September 2011. POGO was invited to attend to provide advice on setting up a new international programme, and to sign as a witness the Memorandum of Understanding. Members of the Alliance currently include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and USA.

International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE)

Together with SCOR, and with seed funding from the Sloan Foundation, POGO is supporting the development of the International Quiet Ocean Experiment. The IQOE is a programme set to last a decade, aimed at mesuring sound in the ocean and the effects of anthopogenic sound on marine life. The programme will make use of existing ocean observing systems and establish new ones to measure the global ocean soundscape. 

NF-POGO Alumni Network for Oceans (NANO)

NANO (NF-POGO Alumni Network for Oceans) is a global network of former scholars of NF and POGO programmes on capacity building. The network is organised into regional coalitions such as NANO Africa, NANO Latin America, NANO India and NANO South-East Asia. Within the NANO network, NF and POGO promote joint research activities and training and provide a platform for networking and exchange.

Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network (OBON)

The Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network is an endorsed #UNOceanDecade programme that will monitor, research & understand ocean life by analyzing biomolecules. POGO is the lead partner and a founder of OBON.

obon logo

Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI)

The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) is a science-driven ocean observing network that delivers real-time data from more than 900 instruments to address critical science questions regarding the world’s oceans.

Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation to encourage scientific investigation, OOI data are freely available online to anyone with an Internet connection.


POGO member institutions have been driving the establishment of OceanSITES, a network of deep-ocean, multi-disciplinary time-series reference sites, measuring many variables and monitoring the full depth of the ocean from the surface down to 5,000 metres. This network comprises about 30 surface and 30 sub-surface arrays. At its 2011 meeting in Seoul, POGO’s directors decided to give immediate priority to increasing support for OceanSITES. They also agreed to encourage all OceanSITES parties to maintain a minimum set of common measurements. OceanSITES moorings are integral to the Global Ocean Observing System, as they complement satellite imagery and Argo float data by adding time and depth, and by expanding what is observed.

SMART Subsea Cables

SMART Subsea Cables for Observing the Global Ocean: This Joint Task Force sponsored by 3 UN agencies (IOC, ITU, WMO) aims to integrate sensors into the repeaters of future trans-oceanic telecommunications cable systems. Sensors would “piggyback” on the existing power and communications infrastructure, with the potential for global coverage at modest incremental cost. Initial sensors would be temperature, pressure, and acceleration.

SOLAS (Surface Ocean – Lower Atmosphere Study)

“Linking Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions with Climate and People”. The global and multidisciplinary research project Surface Ocean – Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) was established to provide international science coordination and capacity building. Initiated with a first Open Science Conference in 2000 and formally launched in 2004, SOLAS research aims to understand the key biogeochemical-physical interactions and feedbacks between the ocean and atmosphere. Achievement of this goal is important to understand and quantify the role that ocean-atmosphere interactions play in the regulation of climate and global change.

POGO is providing funding towards the 2021 SOLAS summer School.


POGO is a sponsor of the Southern Ocean Observing System, which published its Science Plan and established a Project Office at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, in 2011. The SOOS Data Network is the primary access point for search, discovery, mapping and download of data that has been determined to be of significance to the SOOS. In addition, the Southern Ocean Knowledge and Information wiki (SOKI) aims to provide a source of standardised and validated (peer-reviewed) reference material on Southern Ocean ecosystems and on the research tools used in the region.

POGO provided support for the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) Symposium “Southern Ocean in a changing world”, held in Hobart, Australia from the 14 to the 18 of August 2023. The funding from POGO was used to cover travel and subsistence for early-career scientists from developing countries to attend the Symposium.

West Africa Marine Science Symposium (WAMSS)

The West Africa Marine Science Symposium (WAMSS) took place in Ghana from 18 – 20 August 2023, with 163 participants from 18 countries – both within the region and overseas. It was an Ocean Decade endorsed activity that brought together marine and coastal experts, storytellers, youth, government bodies, Non-governmental organisations, funders, and National Geographic Society Explorers from and working in West Africa in order to: Foster critical knowledge exchange and cross-pollinate perspectives on the challenges and opportunities in the region, sharing successes and lessons learned with practitioners across sectors as well as the broader public. Engage early-career professionals and youth to inspire and equip the next generation of marine and coastal scientists, managers, and conservationists with key knowledge and skills. WAMSS highlighted career paths and funding opportunities, offered grant writing workshops, and forged critical connections, identifying successful marine research and conservation models.

The symposium was chaired by POGO Trustee Dr. Edem Mahu, organised by University of Ghana and supported by National Geographic Society, POGO, NEWF and COESSING.

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