The 2nd International Ocean Research Conference (IORC) is an opportunity for the scientific community to come together to plan the coming decade of international collaboration in marine science and technology, with a view to improving ocean governance. The inaugural IORC was held in June 2005, when the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), together with The Oceanography Society (TOS), brought attendees together to discuss expected developments in marine sciences in the decade that followed. Now, almost ten years later, the same institutions are convening the 2nd IORC to review progress made in ocean science in the last twenty years, and plan ahead in light of important policy developments such as The Future We Want (UNCSD Rio+20) and Future Earth.