Marine education is central to marine action

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

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

Empowering people

Marine literacy is often defined as understanding the influence of the sea on you and your influence on the ocean, according to Francesca Santoro, head of marine education at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).

However, he explains that the meaning is more than that.

“It’s really about providing tools to people so they can better use their knowledge of the ocean and be more responsible and make decisions involving marine resources, in a smarter way. It’s really about knowing how much the ocean influences our lives and how we can influence the ocean in both positive and negative ways, ”Ms. Santoro.

© Ocean Image Bank /Ben Jones

Moken children swim in the Myeik Archipelago, Myanmar.

As the center of marine science within the UN system, the IOC spearheaded the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), and supports marine research institutions around the world to promote public engagement.

“The IOC is primarily working to strengthen international collaboration in marine science and marine research-because no one country can do research in all marine basins alone,” it continues. and Santoro.

An important moment

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

Earlier this year, UNESCO launched a campaign to encourage people to participate in the worldwide “Ocean Generation” movement.

The idea is to borrow a changing discourse to connect citizens to the knowledge of the ocean and inspire them to take action to restore, protect and live better at 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 critical time.

Students, active agents of change

Other IOC flagship programs examine the specific effects of climate change on the ocean and how the ocean is 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 develop lesson plans.

Aquariums allow children to explore the water world in an immersive environment.

© Unsplash/Tim B. Motivv

Aquariums allow children to explore the water world in an immersive environment.

“We create a lot of resources – booklets, videos or games – and use them to work with schools around the world to connect with people from an early age, from elementary to high school. We use an approach that not only includes learning goals, but also what we call socio-emotional learning and behavioral learning goals, because we want students to be active agents of change, so that they can participate in initiatives in favor of the protection of the ocean ”, reprimanded Ms. Santoro.

blue schools

In Portugal, Kenya’s co-host of the United Nations Ocean Conference, from June 27 to July 1, the Oceano Azul Foundation will play an important role in promoting literacy and conservation practices.

By working for the climate education of children in Portugal, the Foundation aims to ensure that more children are aware of marine issues and its impact on the ocean. So when they become decision makers, whatever profession they choose, they have an important role to play.

A diamond glitter and an eye porcupine fish search the sand for food, while hundreds of bigeye trevallies gather behind them.

© Nicolas Hahn

A diamond glitter and an eye porcupine fish search the sand for food, while hundreds of bigeye trevallies gather behind them.

Samuel Collins, program manager at Oceano Azul, told UN News how the initiative will work.

“We need to provide information in a way that will dissolve to different age groups. But because of the importance of these issues and their impact in the near future on current generations, we have a responsibility to deliver some information to to young people ”.

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

“They’ll do math, but they’ll talk about fish, they’ll learn French by talking about the ocean, they’ll do history, but the integration of oceanography, so it’s just a reinforcement of the curriculum. “at school, looking through blue optics. They came to Oceanario, did a lot of wonderful activities and were excited because a healthy ocean has great potential and it is important to nurture it,” he added. by Collins.

The program aims to raise awareness of all children living in Portugal about the importance of the ocean, with a focus on the 5-9 year old group.

According to the Foundation, the use of Portugal as a starting point for reading and writing may make it possible to emulate the actions of other countries, especially in Portuguese-speaking and developing countries.

Lagoon Kindergarten

Not far from Italy, Venice has for centuries illustrated the dynamic interaction between man and nature, highlighting its ability to serve as a model for other similar ecosystems.

Due to its good qualities and UNESCO World Heritage status, “Venice and its Lagoon” was chosen as the implementation site for the pilot edition of the “Kindergarten of the Lagoon” initiative launched in May.

This new educational program, based on the promotion of the principles of marine literacy and environmental interaction, aims to develop a close connection between children and nature, through outdoor activities and interaction with local community.

Children participated in drawing activities during an oceanfront event in Venice, Italy.


Children participated in drawing activities during an oceanfront event in Venice, Italy.

Thematic courses are offered in classes of 25 kindergarten students. These courses, called outdoor education, are aimed at discovering the lagoon ecosystem. They are followed by creative encouragement and drawing at the end of each lesson.

In partnership with the Prada group, UNESCO hopes to empower young people to become the next Ocean Generation.

“The international community must make education one of the pillars of its action for the ocean and engage in education to help today’s youth become responsible and informed citizens of tomorrow”, according to Ana Luiza M. Thompson-Flores, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office.

Lisbon: go to scale

The marine education community will meet in Lisbon, Portugal, on the occasion of the United Nations Maritime Conference, to ensure that marine education is seen as a central part of the action for the oceans.

“At the last United Nations Ocean Conference [en 2017, à New York], marine education as a child. Today we can truly show that we have achieved 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 move forward, make sure that maritime education initiatives are in place around the world, and strengthen collaboration to share good practices with different actors, ”Ms. Santoro at UN Info.

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

Ms. also expected. Santoro to “see our community engaging with many stakeholders”.

“Right now we have a lot of scientists and educators, but I think we need, for example, journalists, media, to help us make sure that the sea is in the media, and that people are more aware of its importance. in the ocean for the future of this planet, ”he added.

The creative community is “important”

UNESCO is planning a series of events for the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, including exhibits such as the Ocean Decade Creative Exhibition in the city’s main square and an “Ocean Generation” concert. at the Rock in Rio festival on June 26. These events engage the global creative community and aim to raise awareness of marine science and conservation.

For Ms. Santoro, collaborating with the creative community is “crucial, especially because we are more aware that our emotions are what drive our actions. The reality of work [plus en profondeur] with artists, photographers, strengthens people’s ability to feel more connected to the ocean or to rediscover how connected we are to it. The creative community really helped us find that emotional side of our connection to the ocean.

So we need to work together, scientists and artists, to co-design and co-develop projects, said the IOC’s head of marine education.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a scientist, a journalist, an artist, a policy maker or someone working in the private sector. We must all come together and have a vision and a goal,” Ms. Santoro concluded, “he said. .

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