On 20 May 2022, during the European Maritime Day, the hybrid Ocean Literacy EU4Ocean Summit showcased and awarded the most successful initiatives, collaborations and actions of the EU4Ocean Coalition members. Organisations, individuals, young people, schools and teachers came together to celebrate their efforts and commitment to the ocean and invite others to join them in their work to enhance ocean literacy throughout Europe.
The three communities of the EU4Ocean Coalition have been working together tirelessly:
- the EU4Ocean Platform has recently reached 133 members, including organisations, individuals, and initiatives eager to connect, collaborate and mobilise their ocean literacy efforts. Despite the pandemic, members are finding opportunities to share ideas for joint action on three priority issues: Climate and Ocean, Food from the Ocean, and Healthy and Clean Ocean.
- the Youth4Ocean Forum is a free platform for young people between the ages of 16 and 30, who are passionate about the ocean and who want to make a significant change to protect it and manage its resources in a sustainable way. The Forum has more than 200 members, 133 of which have been recognised as Young Ocean Advocates by the European Commission for their outstanding and innovative work that contributes to developing ocean literacy and improving the health of the world's oceans and the well-being of coastal communities.
- the Network of European Blue Schools now counts 152 members among schools and teachers committed to bringing the ocean into classrooms! To this end, they engaged with their students in the "Find the Blue" challenge by creating and implementing practical action-oriented and problem-solving educational projects addressing ocean issues and challenges.
The EU4Ocean Summit
The EU4Ocean Summit provided platform members with many opportunities to showcase their work, share experience and meet each other in person. Have a look at the programme of the Ocean Literacy EU4Ocean Summit, where videos highlight the main outcomes and discussions of the day!
After the opening session, members of the three EU4Ocean communities came together to discuss what has been achieved so far, while Sessions 1 and Sessions 2, and the respective panel discussions, focused on three topics: Climate & Ocean, Healthy and Clean Ocean, and Food from the Ocean.
Cross-sector thematic dialogues moderated by the three thematic Platform Working Chairs – Tymon Zielinski (IOPAN, Climate & Ocean Working Group Chair), Gesche Krause (AWI, Food from the Ocean Working Group Chair) and Francesca Alvisi (CNR-ISMAR, Healthy and Clean Ocean Working Group Chair) brought together members of the three EU4Ocean communities in lively discussions on what has been achieved in the past two years and ways forward to enhanced ocean literacy. Participants learned about initiatives such as the podcast series 'If Oceans could Speak' and the contest 'I Live by the Sea' for which results were announced on 20 May 2022. An outdoor exhibition of the best pictures from the contest allowed everyone to discover the talents of the young people who participated in the contest.
Session 3 provided a forward-looking focus on the benefits of Ocean Literacy for society and opportunities for future developments, and set the frame for the afternoon parallel workshops. Platform facilitator Kate Larkin moderated the round table, highlighting how EU4Ocean is an opportunity for society. Panellists from all three communities shared their hopes and focus for the future: involvement of inland schools and Ministries of Education, collaborative work, local communities’ knowledge and indigenous knowledge, partnerships, concrete actions, local campaigning around sea basins, impact and concrete communication.
In the afternoon, a series of thematic workshops took place, including:
- Citizens Empowerment through Ocean knowledge co-production. This workshop focused on knowledge co-production by sharing experiences, major outcomes, and good practices of different citizen science projects.
- From individual to collective action: the role for sea basin initiatives to strengthen Ocean Literacy in Europe. The workshop builds on experiences from different actors involved in ocean literacy (OL) activities at different territorial scales, identifying common lessons in terms of bottlenecks and conditions for success.
- The cities we need for the ocean we want, organised by the platform member EuroGOOS with IOC-UNESCO. Several members contributed to the panel discussions of the workshops.
- Youth and Capacity building for Ocean Literacy - Connecting generations through storytelling. The Event was meant to create stronger connections between generations by actively involving participants in the storytelling exercise, both online and in-person.
The Closing Session "Sailing forward" hosted a round table discussion with representative from EC DG MARE, the EU4Ocean Coordinator, and the EU4Ocean coalition's communities. EU4Ocean Platform Chair Paula Kankaanpää emphasized the EU4Ocean Coalition's main task to mainstream the ocean matters into the core of the debate. Moderator EU4Ocean Platform Chair James Nikitine pointed out that the achievement to date is only the beginning and the work ahead is even more exciting. Participants responding to the poll on what struck them most during the summit highlighted, among others, energy, ocean literacy growth, youth, networking, diversity and engagement.
The summit was accompanied by the EU4Ocean Coalition booth and exhibition space, where participants could join interactive activities organised by the EU4Ocean members. EU4Ocean Platform members met with members of the two other EU4Ocean communities, including teachers and Youth4Ocean Forum members.
16 members of the Youth4Ocean Forum and Young Ocean Advocates attended the EU4Ocean Summit for Ocean Literacy at the European Maritime Day conference in May 2022. They met Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries to talk about youth actions, the role of young people in improving ocean literacy and in implementing the Mission Ocean, and more. They gave a youth perspective while speaking in the panel sessions of the EU4Ocean Summit, organised a parallel workshop Youth and Capacity building for Ocean Literacy – Connecting generations through storytelling, and presented their activities and projects in the EU4Ocean booth. During the festival, they showcased their outstanding projects in the streets of Ravenna and cleaned the beaches of Ravenna under the guidance of the National Research Council from Bologna.
During the day, the Network of European Blue Schools paved the way towards a Charter for blue education, which aims to build bridges across blue education in Europe and bring the ocean to other European school networks. The declaration was signed by the European Science Marine Educators Association (EMSEA), Portuguese Directorate-General for Maritime Policy, the BlueGeneration project and the French Office for Biodiversity. The official signing took place in a meeting with the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, who welcomed and recognised the importance of the initiative. 12 teachers from the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, UK, Austria and Italy, attended EMD to present their work in one of the different panels. A class of students from Liceo Linguistico Ilaria Alpi in the nearby town of Cesena participated in the Summit.
The summit, supported by the UNESCO as one of the Ocean Decade Actions, kicked off a new series of initiatives, such as the new EU4Ocean Mentoring Programme. The Coalition wants to keep the momentum going, renew the commitment of its members, bring new ocean lovers on board, and pave the way for further progress.
The EU4Ocean Ocean Literacy Festival
On 21 May, the Ocean Literacy Festival hosted numerous activities organised by the EU4Ocean Coalition members. The festival connected ocean literacy actors from Europe, and showcased the wide diversity of ocean literacy initiatives already in place.
Among the many activities, 50 students of the Istituto Tecnico Tecnologico Statale "G. Marconi" cleaned the beaches of Ravenna under the guidance of CNR, the National Research Council from Bologna. The school takes part of the Erasmus+ project Blue Schools Med.
Making Europe Blue is our vision!
A variety of threats including climate change, overfishing and pollution are putting our oceans at risk, and we need to work together to change course.
The Make Europe Blue campaign has been running for nearly a year, calling on citizens, businesses, organisations, authorities, celebrities and educators to make a pledge to protect the ocean. "Every action – even the smallest one – brings change to our ocean", is our motto... and one we truly believe in!
At the EU4Ocean Summit, many visitors made their pledge, too. By sharing it with others – via the #MakeEUBlue hashtag – they can inspire others and take care of our shared ocean together. We can make a difference, one pledge at a time.