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New IAEA-KISR Ocean Health Project to Help Fill Gaps in Ocean Data


An event promoting ocean health, featuring the research vessel AlMostakshif, was held by the IAEA and KISR (Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research) at COP28 in the Atoms4Climate Pavillon.

The climate crisis has led to growing concern about the effects of a warmer and more acidic ocean on marine life and the people who depend on it. A new project launched on the margins of COP28 by the IAEA and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) aims to contribute to ocean health by helping to fill the gaps in our knowledge of marine ecosystems.

“Without reliable data, we would not be able to understand marine environments,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi at the COP28 side event. “The IAEA is putting all its scientific apparatus to use for the protection of our planet. I welcome that and I am so pleased to work with KISR.”

The project will make use of KISR’s new state-of-the-art research vessel, ‘AlMostakshif' (‘The Explorer’). The ship is aptly named, as it will venture out onto the high seas to conduct new research on ocean acidification and marine pollution. KISR is already a longstanding partner of the IAEA and acts as a hub in the region for marine environment studies, providing its unique expertise in areas related to water, sediment and ocean organisms.

Ms Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme; Mr Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean; Mr Sameer Al-Zenki, Executive Director, Environment and Life Sciences Centre at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR); and Mr Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, discuss the new IAEA-KISR project on ocean health at COP28 in Dubai, 30 November 2023. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

“The ship is ready, and we are looking to introduce a number of activities with the IAEA and partners in the region to try to address the major issues that impact the region and the world as a whole. We hope this will have an impact on the population, on the future generation to come and the livelihoods of the people living on this planet,” said Sameer Al-Zenki, Executive Director of the KISR Environment and Life Sciences Centre.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Anderson and Executive Secretary of the  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Vladimir Ryabinin both spoke at the event. They highlighted the damaging impact of pollution and other harmful human activities on the ocean and the importance of accurate monitoring to creating sustainable ocean ecosystems.

The IAEA-KISR ocean health project will further efforts by the IAEA and KISR to train marine scientists to collect and analyse marine samples using nuclear techniques.

By expanding the knowledge of marine ecosystems, scientists can better understand the effects of climate change and provide accurate data that can be used in climate change policymaking.

Peter Thomson, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, praised the project, noting that it would fill a research void. He stressed that, “without a healthy ocean we do not have a healthy planet, and we cannot survive,” drawing attention to the urgency of marine research efforts.

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