WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2023 –  The Ocean Foundation (TOF) is proud to announce that it has been approved as an Accredited NGO to UNESCO’s 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH). Administered by UNESCO — the United Nations  Educational, Scientific and Cultural  Organization — the Convention aims to assign a higher value to underwater cultural heritage, as the protection and preservation of historical relics allow for a better knowledge and appreciation of past culture, history and science. Understanding and conserving underwater cultural heritage, a particularly vulnerable heritage, also helps us understand climate change and rising sea levels.

Defined as “all traces of human existence of a cultural, historical or archaeological nature which, for at least 100 years, have been partially or totally immersed, periodically or permanently, under the oceans and in lakes and rivers”, underwater cultural heritage faces multiple threats, including but not limited to deep seabed mining, and fishing, among other activities.

The Convention urges States to take all appropriate measures to protect underwater heritage.  More specifically, it provides a common legally binding framework for States Parties on how to better identify, research and protect their underwater heritage while ensuring its preservation and sustainability.

As an Accredited NGO, The Ocean Foundation will officially participate in the work of the meetings as observers, without the right to vote. This allows us to more formally offer our international legal and technical expertise to the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB) and Member State Parties as they consider various measures to protect and preserve underwater cultural heritage. This achievement strengthens our overall ability to move forward with our ongoing work on UCH.

The new accreditation follows TOF’s similar relationships with other international fora, including the International Seabed Authority, the United Nations Environment Assembly (primarily for Global Plastics Treaty negotiations), and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. This announcement follows on the heels of the United States’ recent decision to rejoin UNESCO for July 2023, a step that we also applaud and are willing to support.

About The Ocean Foundation

As the only community foundation for the ocean, The Ocean Foundation (TOF)’s 501(c)(3) mission is to support, strengthen, and promote those organizations dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world. It focuses its collective expertise on emerging threats in order to generate cutting-edge solutions and better strategies for implementation. The Ocean Foundation executes core programmatic initiatives to combat ocean acidification, advance blue resilience, address global marine plastic pollution, and develop ocean literacy for marine education leaders. It also fiscally hosts more than 55 projects across 25 countries.

Media Contact Information

Kate Killerlain Morrison, The Ocean Foundation
P: +1 (202) 313-3160
E: kmorrison@​oceanfdn.​org
W: www.​oceanfdn.​org