At the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference held in Barcelona on 10-12 April 2024, a Data Sharing Helpdesk Booth was brought to life. Led by the IOC-UNESCO, IODE, and the Ocean Data Sharing DCO, in collaboration with OBISODISOTGA, Seabed 2030, the booth remained operational throughout the three-day event, catering to the diverse needs of conference participants, in particular representatives of endorsed Decade Actions.

Its mission was clear: to provide expert guidance and assistance on data-sharing needs and challenges, and showcase existing initiatives aimed at advancing ocean data sharing on a global scale.

Highlights of the Data Sharing Helpdesk included:

  • Permanent Exhibit: Featuring materials from co-organising and co-funding ocean data initiatives, the booth displayed banners, disseminated materials, and showcased short videos highlighting impactful initiatives.
  • Staffed Helpdesk: The booth served as a hub for guidance and information, addressing queries on data sharing, connection to repositories, data discovery, capacity development, and available training programmes.
  • Interactive Demos: Scheduled interactive demonstrations highlighted existing data-sharing initiatives and programmes, aligning with the Data and Information Strategy vision and strategic objectives. Besides the co-organising initiatives already mentioned, programmes primarily attached to the DCO, including Geotraces, and Digital Innovation Hand-in-Hand with Fisheries and Ecosystems Scientific Monitoring, were also showcased.

The response was encouraging, with a constant flow of participants seeking guidance and insight. The Data Sharing Helpdesk successfully fulfilled its objective to offer support in Ocean Data Sharing, while also raising awareness and visibility of existing data-sharing programmes and resources.

In addition to co-organising the Data Sharing Helpdesk Booth, Jan-Bart Calewaert, lead of the DCO-ODS, participated in the main session on ‘Science and Solutions for a Safe and Predicted Ocean’, and facilitated the dialogues in one of the parallel sessions that discussed the Decade Challenge 8: ‘Create a digital representation of the Ocean’. 

By facilitating exchange of information and knowledge, the presence of the DCO-ODS at the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference exemplified its commitment to collaborative and sustainable ocean management, and its role to support the implementation of the Decade’s Data and Information Strategy towards establishing a global digital ecosystem, contributing to achieving the Challenge 8 of the Vision 2030 process.