Proposal: A Strategy towards an Ocean Data and Information Network for Latin America and the Caribbean: ODINLAC
The advancement of science is unthinkable without continuous and efficient exchange of data and information. There is no point in developing scientific programmes and in undertaking scientific research activities unless the research findings can be communicated to the scientific community, and, of even more importance, in an adequate form to policy makers and the general public. This was clearly stated during UNCED and is fully applicable to the LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) region. The whole region periodically experiences the severe damage caused by the effects of El Niño, la Niña and hurricanes. Furthermore, the concentration of the population in the coastal zone, and the related industrial and economic activities, has resulted in serious impacts on coastal and marine resources. There is a strong demand for improved mechanisms for integrated management of the coastal zone and its natural resources. The sovereignty of coastal states over a 200-mile zone of their coastal waters has resulted from the UN Law of the Sea deliberations. However, most coastal countries in the region neither possess sufficient data and information on this area and its resources, nor has access to data and information systems to process and make this data and information accessible in an adequate form. In this context it should be kept in mind that the countries of the region have different characteristics, needs and requirements. It may therefore be of advantage to define sub-groups of countries (South America (Atlantic, Pacific), Central America and the Caribbean), and develop dedicated approaches for each of these sub-regions.