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Ocean literacy in the Baltic: EU4Ocean event workshop

Event date:
25/09/2020 - 14:00 to 16:00
Table of Contents

    The Baltic Sea is an ecosystem facing unique challenges. The intensity of usage by multiple actors from the shipping industry to energy, combined with nutrient run-off from agriculture and phenomena such as exacerbated algal blooms make a “healthy Baltic Sea for all” a very demanding task. And yet, the Baltic Sea region is also home to some of the best-established and intensive international cooperation at the scientific, civil and even political level. Its burgeoning blue bioeconomy needs a big push from the consumer awareness and demand side.

    On 25.09.20, the SUBMARINER Network and Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) hosted an interactive workshop in the framework of the EU4Ocean coalition launch event. We capitalised on the tradition of exchange and discussed ways to bring Ocean Literacy more into focus at the Baltic level, making the most of all the existing grassroots initiatives.

    On the practitioners’ side, we heard from:

    • Tymon Zielinski, Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, also representing the OL initiatives “Today We Have” and “Ocean of changes”
    • Malin Rosengren, University of Gothenburg and Ida Wendt, Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, addressing the activities of the Centre for Sea and Society
    • Dominika Wojcieszek, Gdynia Aquarium and European Marine Science Educators Association, speaking about the need for a Baltic network of Blue Schools and supporters
    • Joachim Hjerl, Havhøst (“Ocean Harvest”), outlining their very practical approach to educational sessions that are also immersive and create “ocean emotions”

    Some key messages here were:

    • The need for interdisciplinary work to really drive OL forward: exchange between scientists (primary researchers) and educational professionals on the one hand, but also bringing in the expertise of marketing and campaigning experts, public authorities, NGOs and more.
    • The two sides of the OL coin: better and enhanced knowledge, but also a stronger sense of emotional connection to the ocean.
    • Making visible that the Baltic Sea (and the global ocean) is not a separate entity to the rest of our daily concerns, even in the realm of environmentalism. The strong connections between land and sea issues must be central to OL activities.

    Furthermore, we heard from Angela Schultz-Zehden about the facilitating role the SUBMARINER Network can play, providing the framework of an informal Baltic working group on OL and aiming to sustain these activities well into the future. Dominik Littfass, Communication Secretary at HELCOM, explained that OL was a topic of growing importance and that the Commission is keen to support activities at a political level and also as a primary knowledge provider. Last but not least, Lisa Simone de Grunt, founding member of Youth4Ocean, gave us her take on “particularly Baltic” challenges in OL and how to harness the enthusiasm and energy of youth activists to drive change.

    Having exchanged with speakers, panellists and attendees on the suggested Action Points, we are now set to operationalise the next phase of the EU4Ocean coalition in the Baltic. 75% of workshop participants registered their interest in joining an informal working group. The first three concrete next steps of this group are:

    • Establish a library of existing ocean literacy material (with a Baltic focus) to be hosted on the Blue Platform website, categorised by material format and target group.
    • Develop a network with twin emphases on education centres (incl. museums and aquaria) with their primary research supporters on the one hand and schools and supporting organisations on the other.
    • Work on a unified approach (possibly a promotion campaign) targeting consumers as a key group for the promotion of ocean literacy. We want to work with NGOs and retailers among others to achieve this.

    Next steps:

    After a more detailed debrief with participants, we will be in touch to organise further exchange (one for each action point is intended). If you didn’t get the chance to join this kick-off workshop but would like to join the working group or future activities, please keep an eye on the SUBMARINER Network OL page and events section, where we will be posting updates. Everyone is welcome!
    We also look forward to discussing topic ideas for the Baltic Sea Ocean Literacy stakeholder event, planned for Spring 2021.
    For more information, please contact Joanna Clarkson: jc@submariner-network.eu

    Workshop documents:

    Look back at our meeting agenda here.
    Find a synthesis report for our meeting here.
    Our speakers’ bios can be found here.

    The workshop is organised as part of the EU4Ocean Coalition for Ocean Literacy. Further information on EU4Ocean is available on the website.