On 8 June each year, we celebrate the ocean, its importance in our lives, and how each of us can protect it, no matter where we live. World Oceans Day raises the profile of the ocean, connects people worldwide, and inspires continuing action year-round to protect and restore this amazing resource that we all depend on.
The Ocean Project helps lead global promotion and coordination of World Oceans Day. Since 2002, we have collaboratively worked in partnership with hundreds of organizations and networks from all sectors to help rally the world around 8 June, and continue to grow engagement and action for our shared ocean throughout the year. Over the last two decades, our global network of partners around our planet has grown to include more than 2,000 organizations, including youth groups, aquariums, zoos, museums, groups representing sailors, divers, swimmers and other recreational interests, the maritime industry, religious organizations, governments, the tourism sector, conservation organizations, universities, schools, businesses, celebrities, and many others. Each year an increasing number of countries and organizations mark 8 June as an opportunity to celebrate our world ocean and our personal connection to the sea.
Thank you to the Government of Canada for proposing the concept of a World Ocean Day, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 2002, when The Ocean Project began to globally promote and coordinate World Oceans Day development and activities, there were only a handful of events in a few countries. Now, there are thousands of events in over 120 countries and a social media reach into the several billions. To help grow recognition of World Ocean Day, together with the World Ocean Network and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, from 2004 to 2008 we developed and widely circulated a petition urging the United Nations to officially recognize World Ocean Day as 8 June each year. As a result of working with hundreds of our partner organizations, and thanks to tens of thousands of people from all parts of the world who signed online and paper copies of the petition, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in December 2008 , officially recognizing 8 June as World Oceans Day each year.
Several years ago, The Ocean Project created a World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council, to have young people around the world help us to expand the reach and impact of World Oceans Day, on 8 June and with continued engagement year-round. Advisory Council members are instrumental in helping shape the development of World Oceans Day as it grows, providing new and unique perspectives, ideas, and recommendations.
To help grow the reach and impact of World Oceans Day and then use those connections for year-round engagement, The Ocean Project conducts proactive outreach to all sectors and brokers connections throughout the year to increase awareness of and participation in this unique opportunity to celebrate our world’s shared ocean and ways to take action, no matter where one lives. In 2003, we created a central website for World Oceans Day, to help event organizers worldwide. Each year we develop a main conservation action theme, as well as new promotional resources and actionable tools, including an annual World Oceans Day social media campaign, for organizations and individuals to use as they wish to engage their target audiences.
WHY “WORLD OCEANS DAY”?
The Ocean Project recognizes that there is one global ocean that connects us all. Within our one ocean, there are five distinct oceans: the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and Southern Ocean. Until 2009, we promoted “World Ocean Day” but added the “s” after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in late 2008 officially recognizing June 8th as World Oceans Day. Perhaps one day the UN will embrace the singular “Ocean” but in the meantime, we are following the UN-designated use of World Oceans Day to show solidarity for the conservation of this important resource that connects us all.
We celebrate World Oceans Day to remind everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe. The purpose of the Day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans. They are a major source of food and medicines and a critical part of the biosphere. In the end, it is a day to celebrate together the beauty, the wealth and the promise of the ocean.
Focus for 2019: Gender and Ocean
We have an opportunity to explore the gender dimension of humankind’s relationship with the ocean.
This year, we strive to build greater ocean and gender literacy, and to discover possible ways to promote gender equality in ocean-related activities such as marine scientific research, fisheries, labour at sea, migration by sea and human trafficking, as well as policy-making and management.
The importance of gender equality — in particular for the effective conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources — is increasingly recognized. However, there is very little data and research on these issues, and a concerted action towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is still needed in all ocean-related sectors to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5.
The Battle Against Plastic
This year, the President of the General Assembly launched ‘Play It Out’, a global campaign against plastic pollution. Decades of overuse and a surge in single-use plastics has led to a global environmental catastrophe. Today, 13,000,000 tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean every year, what among other damage, kill 100,000 marine animals annually. While most plastics are expected to remain intact for decades or centuries after use, those that do erode end up as micro-plastics, consumed by fish and other marine wildlife, quickly making their way into the global food chain.
From plastic straws to plastic bags, we all are at the frontline of efforts to #BeatPlasticPollution.
Coordinated By the UN Office of Legal Affairs, the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, the 2019 finalists of the UN WOD Photo Competition will be announced at the UN celebration on Friday, June 7th. More information on the competition, previous finalists and this year’s panel of judges is available on the World Oceans Day Photo Competition website.
The Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) provides a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to create a new foundation across the science-policy interface to strengthen the management of our oceans and coasts for the benefit of humanity.
Oceans and the Sustainable Development Goals
The Declaration of World Oceans Day in 2008 catalysed action worldwide. Twenty-five years after the first Oceans Day took place in Rio de Janeiro at UNCED, a special event on June 8th marked its celebration during the United Nations Ocean Conference held from 5-9 June 2017. The Ocean Conference was convened to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.