Localizing ocean literacy at the European Maritime Day

Being ocean literate means to know basic facts about the importance for the ocean for life on Earth and spread this knowledge around. In the last years, ocean literacy has gained the recognition is deserves – all funding and programming decisions about the ocean require exactly that – basic understanding of the importance of the ocean for life on Earth.

This is not surprising that at the European Maritime Day 2019, which took place in Lisbon from 16 to 17 May, ocean literacy was high on the agenda. European Commission informed the audience about its plans to build a European Ocean Alliance, a platform bringing together European groups and organisations active in ocean preservation and ocean literacy (open tender call ongoing). UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) have updated the meeting on the outcomes of the 1st UN Ocean Decade Global Planning Meeting (13-15 May, Copenhagen) where ocean literacy was recognized among top priorities.

At EuroGOOS we have been working on ocean literacy for a few years now, with our first ocean literacy book launched at the Our Ocean 2017 conference in Malta. At the European Maritime Day 2019 we launched two translations of this book – in Italian and in Portuguese. Both translations were done in kind by EuroGOOS member organizations or peer associations – the National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, ISPRA in Italy, the Observatório do Mar dos Açores, OMA, and Institute for Sea and Atmosphere, IPMA, in Portugal.

“In the times of misinformation and fake news, ocean literacy becomes an imperative. Policies need a social license, so promoting ocean awareness to our citizens is a must”, said MEP Ricardo Serrão Santos at the launch of Portuguese version of The Ocean Is My Home. The book is designed for children and their parents and touches upon the main ocean literacy themes in Europe, e.g. biodiversity, ecosystem valuation, ocean-climate nexus, pollution and ocean observing.

“When we launched the book at Our Ocean in Malta the success was immediate, shared Dina Eparkhina, the book’s co-author with artist Karri Lehtonen, “but the real impact is achieved locally, spreading the word to schools, governments and broad stakeholders”. At the European Maritime Day 2019, the Portuguese versions reached many of these targets. Among them, the youngest participants of the conference – ten school children from the Portuguese Blue Schools network who spoke to Commissioner Vella and the audience in the opening session, each received a signed copy of the book.

Next for EuroGOOS is go engage strongly with the vast diversity of the ocean literacy activities across 44 EuroGOOS members and through our peer ocean observing systems in global regions, within the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) of IOC-UNESCO. 

In addition to ocean literacy, EuroGOOS stand at the European Maritime Day 2019 profiled the latest ocean observing strategies: GOOS 2030 Strategy (May 2019), EOOS 2018-2020 Strategy and Implementation Plan (November 2018), and the AtlantOS All-Atlantic Ocean Observing Strategy (March 2019). We also promoted the upcoming OceanObs’19 conference – a major decadal meeting place for the ocean community, from observations to information. OceanObs’19 is taking place on 16-20 September in Honolulu, USA.

Find out more about EMD 2019 here. EMD 2020 will be in Cork, Ireland.

You will find all versions for The Ocean Is My Home on the EuroGOOS publications page 

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