Updated: Apr 13
Monaco is home to a highly specialised intergovernmental organisation focused on seas, oceans and navigate waters. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), created in 1921, is addressed to ensure the uniformity of nautical charts and other high-profile documents at international level as well as to foster best practices and guidelines to better develop the hydrographic knowledge among Member States. From the 1st May until the 5th May 2023, the IHO Monaco Headquarters will host the Assembly gathering representatives from the 98 Member States and other relevant stakeholders. This rendezvous, set in Monaco every three-years, will act as the privileged stage where to debate on the followup of technical standards, ocean mapping and resolutions to be shared with all parties.
The future of charts and digital data system transition is in the spotlight of this edition. But attention will be also paid to the 'Southern Ocean' territory around Antarctica and its limits, officially recognised in 1929 for the first time. The Chair of the Hydrographic Commission on Antarctica, acting also as IHO Secretary-General, asked for a new discussion on the matter aimed at drafting a IHO Resolution to find a result on the current debate.
On the 2nd May 2023, a series of keynote speeches will open the international Summit. H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and Dr Kerri-Ann Jones, Deputy Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development - OECD, are among the major speakers. On Thursday, Mark Heine, CEO of Fugro, fond of collecting and analysing geo-data to support decision makers, and Mitsuyuki Unno, Executive Secretary of the Nippon Foundation operating in the field of ocean mapping, will intervene in the roundtable.
Besides the rendez-vous, the Member State and Industry Exhibitions will offer an overview of the latest international technology devices and high profile know-how. Entitled "Mapping the marine environment in the Ocean Decade", the meeting is meant to enhance the essential role of ocean mapping in boosting the ocean sustainable use. In particular, various devices will be unveiled. Notably, United States will show the innovative Science On a Sphere® by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA, capable to display planetary data on ocean currents, temperature and atmospheric storms through an interactive 2-metre sphere resulting from the cutting-edge interaction between computers and video projectors. Moreover, several novel drones and self-driving vehicles will be on display, like the Saildrone Explorer able to sail for 370 days, covering the longest journey ever made, from Rhode Island to Cabo Verde, towards the Equator and back.
The showroom will include also DriX an Uncrewed Surface Vehicle (USV) to manage in-depth hydrographic surveys and subsea asset positioning operations. This submarine technology, with reduction in noise and greenhouse gas emissions, is able to map rather quickly large areas, giving the possibility to increase knowledge about the ocean beds of which little is known.
The 2023 IHO Assembly is going to be a special edition also because it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the International Hydrographic Review, the technical journal on hydrography based on a peer review approach, as well as the 120th anniversary of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean - GEBCO program launched in 1903 by H.S.H. Prince Albert I of Monaco. The tool is still used to raise awareness on climate change, and marine ecosystems as to detect the pathways of pollutants and the tsunami-wave propagation, just to name a few. The new IHO Secretary-General and the Director will be then acknowledged on the 5th May, after being voted by Member States. ***
By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing