Bringing the Ocean to Society
19 Dec 2017
Ocean Literacy… for the next decade and for all!
UNESCO-IOC organised an international conference on Ocean Literacy in December 2017 and released a comprehensive toolkit on the subject.

Ocean Literacy is about the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. There are seven principles of Ocean Literacy

©UNESCO-IOC “Ocean Literacy for All – A toolkit”

©UNESCO-IOC “Ocean Literacy for All – A toolkit”

An ocean-literate person understands these principles, can communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way, and is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources.

Historically speaking, Ocean Literacy, as a concept, is relatively new:

©UNESCO-IOC “Ocean Literacy for All – A toolkit”

Currently, there is a growing global ocean movement connecting ocean science and education for sustainable development. Highlighting this growth is the impressive number of Voluntary Commitments emerging from the United Nations Ocean Conference, held in New York City in June 2017. By the end of 2017, those sum up to over 1400 actions from all sorts of institutions from all over the world.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, a Cooperating EurOcean Member, is a powerhouse on this matter and is truly committed to the worldwide promotion of Ocean Literacy. They have just organised a dedicated international conference which took place in their Venice, Italy, headquarters and the results were very inspiring.

The event took place on 4-5 December 2017 and EurOcean’s Communication Officer, Tiago Garcia, was there to exchange experience and discuss ideas with a worldwide international audience of policy makers, researchers, entrepreneurs, educators, art patrons, and marine sports aficionados. The diverse group of participants and the wide programme gave rise to an engaging discussion on many aspects relevant to Ocean Literacy, from traditional aspects related to science and governance to the not so commonly spoken roles of citizens and artists.

During the two days, the participants had the opportunity to get involved in the development of an Ocean Literacy roadmap for the next three years, in preparation for the next UN Ocean Conference, and in the debate on how the Ocean Literacy for All initiative should best support the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.

Timing wise, the event was also spot on as it preceded the proclamation by the UN General Assembly of the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) which will gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science fully supports countries in the achievement of the SDG14. The objective of this ambitious action is clear: how must we plan for the next ten years in ocean science and technology to achieve together the ocean we need for the future we want?

A major step in that direction is the publication of the 136 pages toolkit entitled “Ocean Literacy for All” that the UNESCO-IOC also just released. The beautiful and very complete manual is not a mere description of Ocean Literacy and its principles. It also provides a collection of successful examples of initiatives that are making the difference all over the planet towards a civic relationship with the ocean, as well an extensive second part fully dedicated to educational activities that can be put into practice in schools and museums. The IOC toolkit is without a doubt one of the best manuals available right now for anyone who wants to help the global Ocean Literacy movement.

And IOC does not want to lose the momentum. An Ocean Literacy online platform will be online in January 2018. We truly recommend you keep an eye on their website and commit to this extraordinary mission. As Peter Thomson, the former President of the General Assembly of the United Nations stated it in Venice, all of us politicians, teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, fishermen, consumers, citizens, parents and grandparents will be failing until Ocean Literacy is fully embedded in everything we do in our homes, offices, travel destinations and, obviously, the ocean.