The vision of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) is the "science we need for the ocean we want". The Ocean Decade is a convening framework for diverse stakeholders to co-design and co-deliver solution-oriented research needed for a well-functioning ocean in support of the 2030 Agenda. Capacity development, ocean literacy and the removal of barriers to full gender, generational, and geographic diversity are essential elements of the Decade.

Since 2018, over 2,000 stakeholders have been consulted to develop the Ocean Decade Implementation Plan that provides a non-prescriptive framework for Decade implementation. Two peer review processes generated nearly 300 submissions on the draft Plan from IOC Member States, UN agencies, and other stakeholders. An Executive Planning Group including representatives of Early Career Ocean Professionals provided advice on the Plan’s development.

The Plan documents the Decade outcomes that describe the "ocean we want" by 2030. It describes a series of ten Ocean Decade Challenges that will unite partners around common ocean science priorities related to knowledge gaps, essential infrastructure, capacity development, and behavior change. Decade Actions in the form of programs, projects, activities or contributions will be proposed by diverse partners to contribute to the Ocean Decade Challenges. Collectively these Actions will contribute to the fulfillment of the Decade Outcomes and feed into the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and related global and policy.

Decade Actions proposed by diverse partners will be endorsed according to a set of criteria contained in the Plan. A first Call for Decade Actions is planned for mid-October 2020.

The Decade will promote the emergence of an extensive stakeholder engagement network including National Decade Committees and regional or thematic stakeholder platforms. A Global Stakeholder Forum, with both virtual and in-person elements, will facilitate connections and exchange between stakeholders and allow regular regularly review and updating of Decade priorities. 

Version 2.0 of the Implementation Plan is being presented to the 75th Session of the UNGA starting in September 2020 and is the last step in its finalization prior to the start of the Decade on 1 January 2021.