One Ocean, One Climate, One Future — Together. That’s the tagline for World Ocean Day 2022, which is celebrated (as always) on the 8th of June. This year’s celebrations and campaigns are shaping up to be the most impactful ones yet. The United Nation’s official theme is Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean, a nod to the fact that all our natural resources are interconnected.
But before we dive into how we might achieve that, we must answer the question: What is World Ocean Day?
While originally an annual event, World Ocean Day also serves as a call to action for ocean conservation throughout the year. It is “a celebration of our one shared ocean that brings together organizations and individuals” who rely on the oceans directly or indirectly. That means it’s for everyone!
A brief history of World Ocean Day
World Ocean Day is a particularly special day to recognize and respect oceans and take collective action to protect and preserve our water bodies.
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Canada first proposed the concept. Fast forward to 2002, and The Ocean Project began to collaborate with global partners to make this vision into reality through worldwide promotion and coordination. The following year, the official website was launched, and 25 events to spread the word about protecting oceans were held across 15 countries. These events engaged all sorts of sectors, industries, and sections of society, with one aim: “to celebrate and take action for our shared blue planet.”
However, it was only in December 2008, after years of petitioning and rallying, that the United Nations officially named 8th June World Ocean Day. Having their backing meant rallies became truly global and started growing in strength.
To streamline these efforts and produce maximum impact, the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council was formed in 2016. They created a Multi-year Conservation Action Focus that prioritized preventing plastic pollution and supporting innovation that restored oceans.
2019 was a huge milestone, as the number of events crossed 2000 and in more than 140 countries. Eighty-seven million people engaged with the social media hashtag #TogetherWeCan, enabling the Youth Council to promote World Ocean Day 365 days a year, instead of only on one day.
In 2020, a new Multi-year Conservation Action Focus was launched — focusing on protecting 30% of our lands and oceans by 2030 in partnership with Campaign for Nature. This is also what 2022’s theme is building on.
On 2022’s Multi-year Conservation Focus
Currently, only around 17% of land and 8% of water worldwide are protected, and scientists have determined that a healthy ocean is a key to solving the climate crises that the world is going through. Therefore, this year’s conservation focus is #30x30: to conserve 30% of lands and oceans by 2030.
The organizers expect to see thousands of youth-led events across 150 countries. Nathany Herrera, a World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council member from Brazil, captured the ethos of the day thus:
“The words that guide us are collaboration and resilience; collaboration because we should not rely on a few people acting perfectly, but millions of people acting imperfectly with a commitment to real change and being resilient in the face of countless problems that we are yet to face.”
How to take action for World Ocean Day
Here’s how you can participate in this global movement as an individual and as an organization.
Sign letters to your political leaders
Leaders of over 90 countries have already committed to the #30x30 pledge — however, more need to join for the movement to pick up speed. Signing the official Conservation Focus letter to your national leaders is an effective way to add your voice to the call for action and only takes a few minutes.
Attend or host a community cleanup
If you live near the ocean, consider hosting a cleanup event with your friends, family, and neighbors. Doing this at rivers, lakes, ponds, and other natural water bodies is also helpful because all oceans are downstream, and you’ll keep their source of water clean. Partnering with local outdoor or water sports businesses can help you spread the word, find volunteers, and make a day out of it!
Educate yourself and others about oceans
We’ve done our fair share of reading at school, but a lot has changed since many graduated. World Ocean Day is the perfect excuse to find some resources on what’s been happening in the marine world. Ocean Today is a fantastic website for immersing yourself in the beauty and mystery of oceans. If you have burning questions that you want experts to answer, Skype a Scientist is your best bet. It has a database of thousands of scientists ready to come on a video call and give you answers straight from the source. This platform is a wonderful option if you’re planning a neighborhood-wide session or are a teacher of young minds in any capacity.
Plant a tree… or ten
93% of the heat trapped in the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean. This increase in temperature damages marine and terrestrial ecosystems by killing coral reefs and melting glaciers. Planting trees can help take the pressure off oceans because trees sequester carbon dioxide and slow the process of global warming. Trees in urban areas are beneficial in reducing waste and soil run-off into rivers, which in turn reduces the garbage flowing into oceans. However, take care to plant trees only in places that can support them and need them. Your safest bet is to partner with a local tree-planting organization or a global one like EcoMatcher.
Join Friends of World Ocean Day
Friends of the United Nations World Ocean Day (FOWOD) is an informal group of people and organizations involved in ocean issues. Joining this group means participating in the community that promotes World Ocean Day and meets up to carry out conservation tasks. It’s a great way to expand your network, educate your organization, and even tick off a few CSR goals!
Sponsor events as an organization
When you work in an organization, you have access to thousands of people who can make a difference in any climate campaign. A fun way to engage these people is to sponsor a sustainable seafood event and invite local chefs to organize food tastings and provide insights. If your offices are near the ocean, consider hosting sustainable fishing tours or marine walks to familiarize your teams with this natural wonder and give them a memorable day. You can also empower action through art by hosting painting events and inviting the community to participate.
The final word
2022’s World Ocean Day celebrations are historic because they’re the first-ever hybrid sessions. The UN headquarters in New York City will play host to in-person events, while the global public will get access to hundreds of virtual talks and screenings to participate in. The day’s schedule is available on the UN’s official website. Have fun participating in the day that humanity celebrates the ocean!