Ocean education is the focal point of ocean action

As part of this initiative, the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is calling on the world to join the revolution in finding innovative solutions in marine science.

UN News spoke with experts inside and outside the UN system to highlight the importance of maritime literacy.

Empower people

According to Francesca Santoro, head of marine education at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), ocean literacy is generally defined as understanding the impact of the ocean on you and your impact on the ocean.

However, he explains that the definition goes beyond that.

“It’s really about giving people the tools to make better use of their knowledge of the oceans and to be more responsible and able to make decisions that involve the resources of the oceans in a more informed way. It’s about being able to really understand how the oceans affect our lives and how we can affect the oceans positively and negatively, ”explained Mrs. Santoro.



Ocean Image Bank / Ben Jones

Moken children swim in the Mike Islands, Myanmar.

As a hub for marine science within the UN system, the IOC leads the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), and supports ocean research institutes around the world to increase public engagement.

“The IOC primarily works to strengthen international cooperation in marine science and ocean research – because no single country can conduct research across all ocean basins alone,” Santoro continued.

An important moment

The Decade of Ocean Science is an opportunity to change the state of the ocean for the next 100 years.

Earlier this year, UNESCO launched a campaign to encourage people to join the global movement “Ocean Generation”.

The idea is to lend a transformative discourse to connect citizens with the knowledge of the sea and inspire them to take steps to recover, protect and live better with the sea.

In an interview with UN News, Vinicius Grunberg Lindoso, head of communications at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, described how you can make a difference at this crucial time.

Students, active agents of change

Some IOC flagship programs examine the special effects of climate change on the oceans and how the oceans can be seen as the best ally in the fight against climate change.

Working closely with schools, teachers and educators, UNESCO uses the results of its marine research to create lesson plans.


Aquariums allow young children to explore the aquatic world in a submerged environment.

Ns Unsplash / Tim B. Motivv

Aquariums allow young children to explore the aquatic world in a submerged environment.

“We’re creating a lot of resources – booklets, videos or games – and using them to engage people from childhood to elementary school to work with schools around the world. We use a method that includes not only learning goals, but What we call the goal of socio-psychological education and behavioral education, because we want students to be active agents of change, so that they can take part in initiatives for protection. “Ocean,” Mrs. Santoro underlined.

Blue school

In Portugal, co-host of the UN Maritime Conference with Kenya, from 27 June to 1 July, the Oceano Azul Foundation played a key role in developing literacy and conservation practices.

Working for children’s climate education in Portugal, the Foundation’s goal is to ensure that more children are made aware of the problems of the sea and their impact on the sea. So when they become decision makers, whatever profession they choose, they will have an important role to play.


A diamond ray and one-eyed hedgehog fish search the sand for food, while hundreds of biggies travel behind them.

Nicholas Han

A diamond ray and one-eyed hedgehog fish search the sand for food, while hundreds of biggies travel behind them.

Samuel Collins, Oceano Azul’s program manager, told UN News how the initiative works.

“We need to provide information in such a way that it is digestible for different ages. But given the importance of these issues and their impact on the present generation in the near future, we have a responsibility to provide specific information to young people. “

In collaboration with Oceanario de Lisboa, Oceano Azul has implemented a program aimed at educating the “blue generation”, training teachers and providing the curriculum and resources needed to spread the message from the first cycle of education.

“They’ll do the math, but they’ll talk about fish, they’ll talk about the sea, they’ll learn French, they’ll make history, but they’ll integrate oceanography, so it’s just a strengthening of the school curriculum to see through blue optics. They come to Oceanario And excited because there is so much potential for a healthy ocean and it is important to nurture it, ”Collins added.

The goal of this program is to raise awareness among all children living in Portugal about the importance of the sea by focusing on the 5-9 age group.

According to the foundation, using Portugal as a starting point for literacy will make it possible to replicate the work in other countries, especially in Portuguese-speaking countries and developing countries.

Lagoon Kindergarten

Not too far from Italy, Venice has depicted dynamic interactions between man and nature over the centuries, highlighting its ability to act as a model for other similar ecosystems.

Due to its ideal features and UNESCO World Heritage status, “Venice and its Lagoon” was chosen as the implementation site for the pilot version of the “Kindergarten of the Lagoon” initiative launched last May.

This new educational program, based on the promotion of sea literacy and interaction with the environment, aims to build closer ties between children and nature through outdoor activities and interactions with the local community.


Children participate in a drawing activity during a sea awareness event in Venice, Italy.

IOC-UNESCO

Children participate in a drawing activity during a sea awareness event in Venice, Italy.

Thematic courses are offered to 25 kindergarten students. These courses, which call for outdoor learning, aim to discover the ecosystem of the lagoon. At the end of each lesson they are followed by creative stimulation and drawing.

In partnership with the Prada Group, UNESCO hopes to empower young people to become future ocean generations.

“The international community must make education one of the pillars of its activities for the sea and engage in education to help today’s youth become responsible and conscious citizens of the future,” said Anna Luiza M. According to the director of Thompson-Flores, UNESCO’s regional office.

Lisbon: Go to scale

In Lisbon, Portugal, the marine education community will come together on the occasion of the United Nations Ocean Conference, so that marine education is seen as a central part of the action for the ocean.

“At the last UN Ocean Conference [en 2017, à New York], Sea education was in his childhood. Today we can truly prove that we have been able to achieve important results, such as promoting the presence of marine education in formal education and we have a growing network of blue schools around the world. But we need to increase the scale, ensure that there are marine education initiatives around the world, and strengthen cooperation to share good practice among different actors, ”Ms. Santoro told UN Info.

On the first day of the 2022 conference in Lisbon, there will be a high-level meeting of the Ocean Decade Alliance after an Ocean Decade Forum on June 30 to deliver a message of action, partnership and inclusion.

Mrs. Santoro hopes to “see our community engage with more stakeholders.”

“At the moment we have most of the scientists and academics, but I think what we need, for example, journalists, the media, can help us realize that the sea is in the media and people are more aware of the importance of the sea. The future of this planet,” he added.

Creative community “important”

UNESCO has planned a series of events for the UN Ocean Summit in Lisbon, including an Ocean Decade Creative Exhibition at the city’s main square and an exhibition such as a “Ocean Generation” concert at the June 26 Rock in Rio Festival. These events engage the creative community worldwide and aim to raise awareness about marine science and conservation.

For Mrs. Santoro, collaboration with the creative community is “important, especially because we are more aware that our emotions motivate our actions. [plus en profondeur] Strengthens the ability of artists, with photographers, to feel more connected to the sea or to rediscover how much we are connected to it. The creative community really helps us find that emotional part of our connection to the ocean. “

The head of marine education at IOC says, so we must have scientists and artists working together, to co-design and co-develop projects.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a scientist, a journalist, an artist, a policy maker or the private sector. We should all come together and have a common vision and goal, ”Mrs. Santoro concluded.

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