Measurements of the status and trends of key indicators for the ocean and marine life are required to inform policy and management in the context of growing human uses of marine resources, coastal development, and climate change. Two synergistic efforts identify specific priority variables for monitoring: Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) through the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), and Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) from the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON). Both systems support reporting against internationally agreed conventions and treaties. GOOS, established under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), plays a leading role in coordinating global monitoring of the ocean and in the definition of EOVs. GEO BON is a global biodiversity observation network that coordinates observations to enhance management of the world’s biodiversity and promote both the awareness and accounting of ecosystem services. Convergence and agreement between these two efforts are required to streamline existing and new marine observation programs to advance scientific knowledge effectively and to support the sustainable use and management of ocean spaces and resources. In this context, the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON), a thematic component of GEO BON, is collaborating with GOOS, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), and the Integrated Marine Biosphere Research (IMBeR) project to ensure that EBVs and EOVs are complementary, representing alternative uses of a common set of scientific measurements. This work is informed by the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM), an intergovernmental body of technical experts that helps international coordination on best practices for observing, data management and services, combined with capacity development expertise. Characterizing biodiversity and understanding its drivers will require incorporation of observations from traditional and molecular taxonomy, animal tagging and tracking efforts, ocean biogeochemistry, and ocean observatory initiatives including deep ocean and seafloor. The partnership between large-scale ocean observing and product distribution initiatives (MBON, OBIS, JCOMM, and GOOS) is an expedited, effective way to support international policy-level assessments (e.g., the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services or IPBES), along with the implementation of international development goals (e.g., the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals).