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The European Commission and UNESCO start collaboration on Ocean Literacy

Date: 31 January 2022

The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission  is promoting its international engagements on Ocean Literacy through an Agreement with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO (IOC UNESCO), the authoritative international UN body on issues of global ocean science and services, for the support of the EU-wide ocean literacy initiative it has set up, the EU4Ocean coalition.

"IOC of UNESCO is delighted to partner with the European Commission DG MARE to advance ocean literacy. Timing could not be more perfect: the Ocean Decade 2021-2030 is in full sway, and Europe is celebrating its Year of Youth. Students, young professionals and all those who care about the future of our Planet Ocean will be at the heart of our joint actions" -  said Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of IOC-UNESCO.

This cooperation provides a framework for the implementation of ocean literacy activities of the EU4Ocean coalition in the next 3 years that will:

  • further promote and facilitate the uptake of the ocean literacy, pursued under the coalition and its communities throughout Europe but also beyond, at an international scale,
  • enhance their impact and visibility,
  • expand the outreach of the coalition,
  • empower society at large to take actions for the ocean by contributing to the collective initiatives and campaigns of the EU4Ocean coalition and making citizens and communities more ocean literate.

  Furthermore, this collaboration will also inscribe this EU-wide initiative and enlist its activities under the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) that started on 1 January 2021.  The United Nations has proclaimed the ‘Ocean Decade’ to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support actors around the world in creating improved conditions for sustainable development of the Ocean.

The IOC UNESCO has been mandated by the UN General Assembly to coordinate the Decade’s implementation, inviting the global ocean community to work together for the next ten years in ocean science and technology to co-design and co-deliver the ocean we need for the future we want!

Ocean literacy features prominently in the Ocean Decade Implementation Plan and is reflected as one of the seven Ocean Decade Outcomes, 'An engaging and inspiring ocean’ and is one of the ten Ocean Decade Challenges that will be used to rally the international community. A corresponding Ocean Literacy Framework of Action for the Ocean Decade was developed to set a collective ambition for ocean literacy throughout the Decade. A number of flagship programmes, including the Ocean Literacy With All Programme which is being led by IOC-UNESCO, are already working to achieve this ambition.

"In the constant effort to preserve the Ocean and ensure the sustainable use its resources, the European Commission aims for a stronger engagement of society and youth. Ocean literacy is a key driver of change in this respect. I’m proud to see EU4Ocean, the EU ocean literacy initiative, partnering up with IOC UNESCO to promote a stronger ocean education in the EU" - said Charlina Vitcheva, The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE).

The cooperation is set to commence on the 1st of February 2022. Through a set of pre-defined actions that will support the work of the 3 communities under the EU4Ocean coalition, namely the Platform of members (mostly civil society organisations), the Youth for Ocean Forum (its dedicated youth network) and the Network of European Blue Schools (that embed ocean literacy principles in school curricula), the cooperation with IOC UNESCO will support and strengthen the activities of the coalition and the achievement of its overall objectives, will mobilize stakeholders and bring visibility to it, create synergies with the Ocean Decade by encouraging and facilitating links to endorsed Decade programmes, including the IOC-UNESCO-led Ocean Literacy With All Programme, and encourage endorsement of initiatives and activities as Ocean Decade Actions. The project will also facilitate access to the UNESCO networks, in particular those related to marine science, sustainability, climate change and education in general.

The EC’s financial contribution to IOC UNESCO will finance the implementation of the agreed actions in the period of the next three years.