In 1986, in the framework of the 28th International Geographical Congress Land, Sea and Human Effort (The Hague, The Netherlands) discussion on the role and prospect of ocean geography was carried out.On the basis on an extended paper (The Agenda 21 of Ocean Geography) of Adalberto Vallega, a resolution was adopted by the participants in a special session, inviting the International Geographical Union to make efforts to strengthen the role of geographical ocean and coastal research within ocean science vis-à-vis the Agenda 21 adopted in Rio. In that view ocean geography was regarded as a cross arena where many sectors of geography might be efficiently involved and adopt approaches integrating natural and social sciences focusing on the spatial implications from the man-ecosystem interaction. The General Assembly of IGU agreed on the proposal and adopted the Oceans programme regarding it as a main contribution to the International Year of the Ocean (1998). A Vallega, as a newly elected Vice-president of the IGU, was appointed to implement it.
This includes the scientific materials regarding the discussion on the role of geography vis-à-vis the ocean global change and the sustainable development of the ocean and a concise presentation of the Oceans programme. This contribution is not only intended to stimulate the geographical approach to the deep-ocean, coastal areas and small islands, but also to encourage the development of effective interdisciplinary views of the ocean, so dealing with one of the most intriguing challenges of the next century.