World Hydrography Day

World Hydrography Day, 21 June, was adopted by the International Hydrographic Organization as an annual celebration to publicise the work of hydrographers and the importance of hydrography.[1]


The International Hydrographic Bureau was established in 1921 for the purpose of providing a mechanism for consultation between governments on such matters as technical standards, safe navigation and the protection of the marine environment. In 1970 the name was changed to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). The IHO is actively engaged in developing standards and interoperability, particularly in relation to the challenges brought about by digital technologies.[2]

In 2005 the IHO adopted the concept of a World Hydrography Day, which was "welcomed" by the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution A/RES/60/30 Oceans and the law of the sea.[3]

The date chosen for World Hydrography Day is the anniversary of the founding of the International Hydrographic Organization.[4]


World Hydrography Day was adopted, in the words of the UN,[3] with the aim of:

... giving suitable publicity to its [IHO's] work at all levels and of increasing the coverage of hydrographic information on a global basis ...

Translation of this aim through World Hydrography Day is achieved by the nomination of a theme for each year's celebration. Once a theme is agreed, the IHO Member States, international and national hydrographic organisations and services develop activity programs and events that highlight the annual theme.


A theme for each World Hydrography Day is determined by the Member States of the International Hydrographic Organization and is intended to promote the importance of hydrography internationally, multilateral cooperation and effective collaboration in data exchange, charting and standards development.

The theme for 2019 is "Hydrographic information driving marine knowledge"

Previous themes were:

  • 2018: Bathymetry - the foundation for sustainable seas, oceans and waterways
  • 2017: Mapping our seas, oceans and waterways - more important than ever
  • 2016: Hydrography - the key to well-managed seas and waterways
  • 2015: Our seas and waterways - yet to be fully charted and explored
  • 2014: Hydrography - much more than just nautical charts
  • 2013: Hydrography - underpinning the Blue Economy
  • 2012: International Hydrographic Cooperation - supporting safe navigation
  • 2011: Human Resources - The important element to the success of hydrography
  • 2010: Hydrographic Services - the essential element for maritime trade
  • 2009: Hydrography - Protecting the marine environment
  • 2008: Capacity Building, a vital tool to assist the IHO in achieving its mission and objectives
  • 2007: Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs); an essential element of safety at sea and efficient maritime operations


Member states of the IHO, as well as international and national hydrographic organisations and services worldwide, engage in a range of activities on or around 21 June each year to mark World Hydrography Day. These include:

  • Awards
  • Conferences
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Lectures
  • Dinners
  • Public events
  • Demonstrations
  • Promotional material


  1. "World Hydrography Day (WHD)". International Hydrographic Organization. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  2. IHO Transfer Standard for Digital Hydrographic Data, Publication S-57 Edition 3.1 (PDF), International Hydrographic Bureau, November 2002, retrieved 5 November 2012
  3. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 60/30. Oceans and the law of the sea, United Nations General Assembly, 8 March 2006, retrieved 5 September 2012
  4. "World Hydrography Day - 21 June 2013". International Hydrographic Organization. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
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