About the United Nations Atlas of the Oceans

The UN Atlas of the Oceans is an Internet portal providing information relevant to the sustainable development of the oceans. It is designed for policy-makers who need to become familiar with ocean issues and for scientists, students and resource managers who need access to databases and approaches to sustainability. The UN Atlas can also provide the ocean industry and stakeholders with pertinent information on ocean matters.

Content of the UN Atlas of the Oceans

The Atlas includes four main entry points to access information: 

  1. USES (of the oceans) - from fishing, shipping and mining to tourism, dumping and marine biotechnology
  2. ISSUES - from food security and climate change to governance and human health
  3. FACTS (about the oceans) - from history, biology, maps and statistics to research, climatology and ecology
  4. GEOGRAPHY - information categorized by geographical area


The UN Atlas supports Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, the blueprint for the sustainable development of oceans adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The development of the Atlas began in November 1999 by the UN agencies responsible for matters relevant to the sustainable development of the oceans and the advancement of ocean science as an initiative of the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) (formerly the Subcommittee on Oceans and Coastal Areas of the Administrative Committee on Coordination).

General information

  1. leaflet of the UN Atlas of the Oceans is available in PDF (6.5 MB)
  2. A poster of the UN Atlas of the Oceans (50cm x 70cm size) is available at low resolution (for preview) (160 kb) and at high resolution in PDF (for printing)(12 MB)
  3. presentation on the UN Atlas of the Oceans is available in PDF (15000 kb)
  4. UN Atlas of the Oceans press releases:
    1. issued at launch of the UN Atlas of the Oceans: EnglishFrenchSpanishArabic (in PDF)
    2. issued at 5th anniversary of the UN Atlas of the Oceans: English


The UN Atlas of the Oceans was initially funded by the United Nations Foundation. In addition, six UN Agencies (FAO, IAEA, IMO, UNEP, WMO, UNESCO/IOC) committed financial resources to the project, joined by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). Development has been under the lead of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department with additional participation from national agencies. Collaborators include the Russian Head Department of Navigation and Oceanography (HDNO) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which provided a wealth of information and seconded a senior manager to serve as Project Manager, supplying him with support staff and funding. The original partnership has expanded to include: the National Geographic Society, the UN International Seabed Authority (ISA), the World Resource Institute (WRI) and the World Ocean Observatory (W2O).