World Ocean Day: What is it, why does it matter and how do we get involved? | Climate News

World Ocean Day is celebrated every 8 June as a reminder of how integral our seas are to life on Earth.

A United Nations initiative, Oceans Day was first declared in 1992 following the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, also known as the Earth Summit, which led to important climate change goals.

In 2008, 8 June was officially designated as World Ocean Day, with a different theme each year.

What is World Ocean Day?

The day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the benefits humans get from the ocean and our individual and collective duty to use its resources sustainably.

It is also a chance to celebrate and appreciate what the ocean provides, from the oxygen we breathe to the inspiration it provides artists.

Why does World Ocean Day matter?

Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet, produce at least 50% of the world’s oxygen, are home to most of the Earth’s biodiversity and are the main source of protein for more than a billion people.

They also absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans – a buffer for the detrimental impacts of global warming.

A new YouGov survey of 1,696 adults has found that almost three-quarters (73%) of people in the UK say ocean wildlife needs more protection

The UN hopes World Ocean Day will help inform the public of human actions on the ocean and develop a worldwide movement to protect it and unite the world in sustainably managing the oceans.

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The world’s oceans are home to most of the Earth’s biodiversity

What is this year’s theme and what are they hoping to achieve?

Revitalisation, Collective Action for the Ocean is 2022’s World Ocean Day theme.

The ocean may connect, sustain and support us all but its health is “at a tipping point and so is the well-being of all that depends on it”, says the UN.

This year’s theme is aimed at getting people to work together to create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes it but instead restores its vibrancy and brings it new life.

Events will be aimed at shedding light on communities, ideas and solutions working together to protect and revitalise the ocean, and everything it sustains.

This year’s conservation action focus is the 30×30 initiative, which is based on scientific estimates that 30% of the Earth’s lands, waters and ocean need to be protected by 2030 to create a healthy ocean to stabilise the climate.

Currently, less than 17% of land and 8% of the ocean worldwide is protected.

Leaders in more than 90 countries, including the UK, have already adopted the 30×30 goal but the hope is to grow it into a truly global movement.

What about beyond this year?

It is vital to help protect the ocean every day, but we are currently in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

From 2021 to 2030, efforts are being made to use our current knowledge of the oceans better to help politicians and decision-makers choose the best options to save oceans and measure the possible consequences of policies.

Workers offload tuna from a fishing boat in Port Victoria
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90% of big fish populations are currently depleted, the UN says

The decade is also aimed at supporting a sustainable Blue Economy, sharing the responsibility of protecting oceans and at bolstering scientific research and technologies.

It is all part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all UN members to end poverty and other deprivations, reduce inequality, spur economic growth, tackle climate change and preserve our oceans and resources.

Who can get involved?

Everyone!

Science centres, research institutes, governments, NGOs, businesses and communities all around the world are planning local and global events involving millions of people.

But you do not have to be part of a group to get involved.

World Ocean Day is happening both virtually and in-person at the UN headquarters in New York for the first time, following two years of online-only participation during the pandemic.

Face mask on beach
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Lockdowns around the world have not stopped pollution in our seas

There will be a wide range of people talking, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, supermodel and sustainability advocate Amber Valletta, Lea d’Auriol, founder of NGO Oceanic Global, renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle, chef Shinobu Namae and Lisa Blair, the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica.

Events start at 10am EST (3pm UK time) and will end with a performance by singer Bedouine from 1pm EST (6pm UK time).

At 11.30am EST (4.30pm UK) the finalists and winners of the World Ocean Day photo competition will be announced.

You can sign up for the events here.

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