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Danish citizens lead push up on inviting civil society to join the Ocean Decade

Date: 20 November 2020

On October 23-24, the Danish Board of Technology organized a “Consensus Conference on the Danish Marine Environment: Our Ocean”. The objective of the conference which was funded by the VELUX Foundations was to increase public awareness of the marine environment and bring citizens' concerns and perceptions into the political debate.

Such initiatives are in line with the UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the recommendations of the Citizen Panel includes for the Danish government to embrace the UN Decade objectives. The very serious condition of the sea dawned on the citizens and they will here share their concerns and recommendations to the politicians, which the politicians are asked to act on immediately.

Prior to the conference, a panel of 14 citizens was selected to vary across gender, age, residence, education and interests. They were given a first introduction to the state of the Danish marine environment. They formulated a series of questions about the state of the marine environment, the impact of human resource use and other activities on marine ecosystems and on potential solutions - questions which were then addressed by experts and stakeholders during the first two days of the conference. The citizens then formulated a joint document with their concerns and recommendations which they presented to politicians, media, experts and stakeholders in the Danish parliament on the last day.

In the public consensus report “Our Sea” the citizen panel stress that the state of the marine environment is alarming, that we need to act, and that the societal costs may be big in the short term but will turn out as reasonable investments in the future. The panel also share the concern that despite the importance and urgency of the issue, citizens in general know very little about it. They call for educational, cultural and public service organizations to take on the important task of public communication about the marine environment in order to urge us all to take on responsibility. They concluded by inviting the audience to join the Ocean Decade and focus on its ten challenges. Through the Decade, inclusive tools such as ocean literacy and capacity-development were mentioned as necessary to transform ocean knowledge into actions over the next ten years.

These recommendations of the Citizen Panel will be carefully drawn up to a set of final recommendations to the Danish Government and other Danish authorities for an effective agenda and actions for ocean governance. These outcomes of the conference will be presented during February 2021, taking into consideration that effective ocean stewardship requires the participation of all members of society in defining a common ocean future.