The Percentage of Brazil's Research Budget Dedicated to the Oceans is 98% Lower Than the World Average

People sit in a crowded conference room
Lisbon, Portugal

The Percentage of Brazil's Research Budget Dedicated to the Oceans is 98% Lower Than the World Average

The resources dedicated to ocean studies in Brazil correspond to just 0.03% of total research spending in the country, showed a UNESCO report released this Friday (1 July) in Lisbon, Portugal at the United Nations Ocean Conference.

The document, published during the Ocean Conference, revealed that, on average, 1.7% of national research resources in the analyzed countries are spent on ocean sciences. In Brazil, this percentage is 98% lower than the average.

According to the head of UNESCO's Section of Ocean Sciences, Henrik Enevoldsen, the report can help encourage countries with lower investments to increase their efforts in ocean science. For him, the world average can be considered “very, very small”

“We have an average investment in ocean science of about 1.7% of the total investment in research, so it's a very, very small percentage. By highlighting this in the report, and by allowing countries to see where they stand compared to others, presenting the challenges that lie ahead, we hope this will spur local discussions on whether this investment is sufficient,” said Enevoldsen.

A museum display with fishing equipment
Exhibition at the Oceanographic Museum of the University of São Paulo (USP), in the West Zone of the capital / Credit: Marcos Santos via USP images.

During the release of the report, the head of Marine Policy and Regional Coordination at UNESCO, Julian Barbière, said he expects investments by the private and philanthropic sectors in ocean research to also increase in the coming years.

“The report is also to show the benefits of these investments, providing solid services to the national economy and sustainable development,” said the spokesperson.

“This is a discussion that we are also trying to broaden beyond governments. For example, philanthropy has started to play a much more important role, and we also need the private sector,” said the spokesperson.

The UNESCO study also analyzed the number of researchers focused on ocean sciences per 1 million inhabitants. In this indicator, Brazil is also one of the worst on the list. There are less than 10 scientists dedicated to this topic per 1 million inhabitants in the country — less than in countries like Suriname and Benin. In the countries that lead the list, such as Norway, Portugal and Sweden, the number reaches 300 per million inhabitants.

Despite this, Brazil is one of the countries with the best gender representation in the ocean research sector: in the country, more than 50% of researchers in this area are women.

The UN Ocean Conference

Responsible for covering more than 70% of the planet's area, the ocean is essential for the maintenance of life on Earth, but its health is in danger — this alert is the main focus of the UN Ocean Conference, which took place in Lisbon Portugal from 27 June to 1 July.

The event brought together delegations from different countries to promote the development of concrete actions, both by countries and private institutions, so that the goals of the 2030 Agenda, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are achieved. In the case of the ocean, this is SDG 14, Life at Sea, which includes commitments such as significantly reducing marine pollution by 2025.

A sculpture of a giant cat with blue sky behind
United Nations Ocean Conference is held in Lisbon, Portugal / Credit: Patrícia Figueiredo.

In addition to providing food and work, the ocean also plays a fundamental role in regulating the planet's climate: it is what ensures that the Earth's temperature remains at levels suitable for the survival of various species, including humans.

But, due to human action, the seas have suffered several challenges, which include the increase in pollution, caused mainly by plastics, and also by the increase in the acidity of the water, caused by the increase in carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

This story was produced as part of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference Fellowship organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network with support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch). It was originally published in Portuguese by G1 on July 3, 2022. It has been translated to English and lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: 2022 UN Ocean Conference Closing Ceremony / Credit: United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs.

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