New IHO Council meets in Monaco

Published: 14/11/2023 - 14:52

Representatives of IHO Member States discussed the future of digital data services and other priorities during the meeting of the new IHO Council. Taking place at the Secretariat in Monaco, the 30 countries sitting on Council met for the 1st time with the goal of coordinating the implementation of activities voted on during Assembly in May. The biggest topic of discussion was progress and next steps in the implementation of the Universal Digital Data Model, known as the S-100 framework.

With the transition to digital data systems and the increasing need for up-to date ocean data, implementing the universal data model which can support data both produced by and used by a range of different stakeholders is the priority.


The S-100 framework and other topics were discussed at the 7th meeting of the IHO Council. Photo © IHO

Progress in the various projects related to S-100 is proof of the international community’s commitment to this transition. Having interoperable and machine-readable data will provide a cornucopia of benefits in support of safe navigation, the development of the blue economy, and effective initiatives to measure and address ocean change.

The core essence of the IHO is to set standards. Our century-long experience in developing standards for navigation products puts us in the unique position to broaden their use to apply to all ocean data.

Dr Mathias Jonas, IHO Secretary General

Already the Product Specification for the delimitation of sea areas (Polygonal demarcations of global sea areas, S-130 Edition 1.0.0) is ready for initial implementation, testing and evaluation. Council agreed to test the Product Specification in two regions, the Baltic Sea and the Southern Ocean, before the publication of the operational version of the standard and official production of the single IHO authoritative dataset for limits.

 Dr Mathias Jonas and Pia Dahl Højgaard. Photo © IHO

Council members also discussed the provision of an MSDI layer for Marine Protected Areas, a concrete example of how these standards could support the wider ocean community and global initiatives under the UN Ocean Decade. A global MSDI layer dedicated to MPAs, limited to the High Sea as a first step, would allow compatible GIS systems to monitor progress in the goal of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030, which caters to Goal 3 of the IHO Strategic Plan to contribute international initiatives related to the knowledge and sustainable use of the ocean.

Participants also listened to updates from the IHO-Singapore Innovation and Technology Laboratory, and in particular the project to test whether safe navigation can be supported by displaying dynamic sea level changes on ENCs. The S-100 Implementation Roadmap was updated with a new timeline for standards development into their operational edition 2.0.0 planned to be approved by IHO Member States from November 2024.

It will be an ambitious journey to provide products and services based on the Universal Data Framework S-100 before the end of the decade, but this also presents an opportunity to support countries’ activities in favour of the sustainable use of the ocean.


 With phase 1 of the standards to be available in November next year, we need to start thinking of getting the data ready in order to then be in a position to provide services. This meeting enabled us to put all the wagons in line on the train track, ready to go forwards.

Pia Dahl Højgaard, Chair of the IHO Council 2023 - 2026

The 2023-2026 Council is made up of: Angola, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, India, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Thailand, China, Singapore, Malta, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, Greece, Japan, United States of America and Cyprus. Some countries on Council are selected by the regional Hydrographic Commissions and can ensure regional perspectives are considered in discussions.

Finland, Monaco, Spain, the International Centre for ENCs (IC-ENC) and the East Asia Coordination Center (EACC), attended as observers.

Members of the 2023 - 2026 Council. Photo © IHO

The meeting took place at the IHO Secretariat in Monaco with a live streaming link for a couple of IHO Member State representatives unable to attend in-person. On this question, the Council considered various options available to make IHO meetings more inclusive in the future (working groups, committees…) in order to limit the carbon footprint and minimize travel costs.

 Full steam ahead towards finalization of the first S-100 products which will facilitate passage to the next level in digital navigation.

Dr Mathias Jonas


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Last modified: 15/11/2023 - 09:55