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Capacity development in the Ocean Decade and beyond: Key questions about meanings, motivations, pathways, and measurements

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Capacity development is a major priority in the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (the Decade). Persistent disparities in ocean science capacity illustrate the substantial challenges to achieving the Decade's stated goal of eradicating inequality. We argue that a new conversation about capacity development is essential for the success of the Decade and beyond. We question the meaning, motivations, pathways and measurement of capacity development at this critical juncture. While we do not propose a single answer to these context- and situation-specific questions, we do recognize that the lack of accepted, or even defined, approaches to capacity development, its initiation, leadership, desired outcomes, implementation, and evaluation is failing the global ocean community. Explicit focus and reflection on the power of discourses, definitions, positionality, and perspectives has the potential to greatly improve the experience and outcomes of capacity development programs. This Perspective seeks to stimulate reflection and action to seize the substantial opportunity presented by the Decade to facilitate capacity development solutions toward a more equitable world.

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