Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Let’s make Europe Blue: the EU4Ocean for Ocean Literacy Summit rewards outstanding actions for the Ocean

Event date:
19/05/2022 (All day) to 21/05/2022 (All day)
Table of Contents
    After more than 2 years, the EU4Ocean Ocean Literacy Summit is rewarding outstanding actions for the Ocean!

    On 20 May 2022, during the European Maritime Day, the hybrid Ocean Literacy EU4Ocean Summit showcased and awarded the most successful initiatives, collaborations and actions of the EU4Ocean Coalition members. Organisations, individuals, young people, schools and teachers came together to celebrate their efforts and commitment to the ocean and invite others to join them in their work to enhance ocean literacy throughout Europe.

    The three communities of the EU4Ocean Coalition have been working together tirelessly:

    • the EU4Ocean Platform has recently reached 133 members, including organisations, individuals, and initiatives eager to connect, collaborate and mobilise their ocean literacy efforts. Despite the pandemic, members are finding opportunities to share ideas for joint action on three priority issues: Climate and Ocean, Food from the Ocean, and Healthy and Clean Ocean.
    • the Youth4Ocean Forum is a free platform for young people between the ages of 16 and 30, who are passionate about the ocean and who want to make a significant change to protect it and manage its resources in a sustainable way. The Forum has more than 200 members, 133 of which have been recognised as Young Ocean Advocates by the European Commission for their outstanding and innovative work that contributes to developing ocean literacy and improving the health of the world´s oceans and the well-being of coastal communities. With more than 60 ongoing projects, their actions support a shift in thinking and action across Europe and contribute to a healthy and sustainable ocean. See an extract of their video pitches here! The Forum also offers a coaching and mentoring programme that connects its members with experts of the EU4Ocean Coalition, as in these extracts from the “Meet a Blue Expert” webinar series. Recently, the representatives of the Forum took part in the COP26 to make their voice heard.
    • the Network of European Blue Schools now counts 152 members among schools and teachers committed to bringing the ocean into classrooms! To this end, they engaged with their students in the “Find the Blue” challenge by creating and implementing practical action-oriented and problem-solving educational projects addressing ocean issues and challenges.

    The EU4Ocean Summit

    The EU4Ocean Summit provided Platform members with many opportunities to showcase their work, share experience and meet each other in person. Have a look at the programme of the Ocean Literacy EU4Ocean Summit, where videos highlight the main outcomes and discussions of the day!

    After the Opening session, members of the three EU4Ocean communities came together to discuss what has been achieved so far, while Sessions 1 and Sessions 2, and the respective panel discussions, focused on three topics: Climate & Ocean, Healthy and Clean Ocean, and Food from the Ocean

    Cross-sector thematic dialogues moderated by the three thematic Platform Working Chairs - Tymon Zielinski (IOPAN, Climate & Ocean Working Group Chair), Gesche Krause (AWI, Food from the Ocean Working Group Chair) and Francesca Alvisi (CNR-ISMAR, Healthy and Clean Ocean Working Group Chair) brought together members of the three EU4Ocean communities in lively discussions on what has been achieved in the past two years and ways forward to enhanced ocean literacy. Participants learned about initiatives such as the podcast series ‘If Oceans could Speak’ and the contest ‘I Live by the Sea’ for which results were announced on 20 May 2022. An outdoor exhibition of the best pictures from the contest allowed everyone to discover the talents of the young people who participated in the contest.

    Session 3  provided a forward-looking focus on the benefits of Ocean Literacy for society and opportunities for future developments and set the frame for the afternoon parallel workshops. Platform facilitator Kate Larkin moderated the round table highlighting how EU4Ocean is an opportunity for society. Panelists from all three communities shared their hopes and focus for the future: involvement of inland schools and Ministries of Education, collaborative work, local communities’ knowledge and indigenous knowledge, partnerships, concrete actions, local campaigning around sea basins, impact and concrete communication.

    The morning concluded with the “EU4OCEAN in action!” - Award ceremony, which celebrated this milestone and the many contributions of its growing communities to Let’s make Europe Blue! 

    In the afternoon, a series of thematic workshops took place, including:

    • The future intergenerational and EU4Ocean cooperation becomes a constant, continuous effort throughout the year rather than collaborating on a few occasions per year;
    • The future intergenerational cooperation is connected with more local actions and mobilisation of local communities across Europe, while the work on advocacy and action for ocean literacy on the EU level continues;
    • More innovative approaches and initiatives (e.g. blue local stories, local reality events, mentorship to empower young people and widen the perspective of senior experts, blue volunteer programme, European challenges and meetings with politicians to improve preservation and education policies, promotion of local businesses/manufactures/products/services, sustainable seafood campaigns, blue contact points in every major city in the EU, engagement of local communities and stakeholders in Marine Protected Areas, commitment of all European countries to mainstream ocean education) bring different generations together to promote ocean literacy and sustainability:
    • The schools curricula are better adapted with ocean literacy entries and funding for projects of Blue Schools is available;
    • More occasions for storytelling and intergenerational exchanges are facilitated and mainstreamed in upcoming relevant events;
    • Conferences ensure meaningful dialogues not only among generations, but also among more diverse groups of ocean and non-ocean stakeholders and attract participation of policymakers in a more systematic and meaningful way.

    The Closing Session “Sailing forward” hosted a round table discussion with representative from EC DG MARE, the EU4Ocean Coordinator, and the EU4Ocean coalition’s communities. EU4Ocean Platform Chair Paula Kankaanpää emphasized the EU4Ocean Coalition’s main task to mainstream the ocean matters into the core of the debate. Moderator EU4Ocean Platform Chair James Nikitine pointed out that the achievement to date is only the beginning and the work ahead is even more exciting. Participants responding to the poll on what struck them most during the summit highlighted, amongst others, energy, ocean literacy growth, youth, networking, diversity and engagement.

    The Summit was accompanied by the EU4Ocean Coalition booth and exhibition space. EU4Ocean Platform members met with members of the two other EU4Ocean communities including teachers and Youth4Ocean Forum members. The EU4Ocean stand was a regular meeting point during the summit and a great place to network and learn about members’ activities.  It was possible, amongst other things, to discover the Italian National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS)’s Fish n’ Ships game, play the Nausicaá Chatterbox game to learn about skates and rays, find out how the European Atlas of the Seas can help everyone connect to the ocean, listen to interviews and short debates and participate in the dynamic quizzes!

    16 members of the Youth4Ocean Forum and Young Ocean Advocates attended the EU4Ocean Summit for Ocean Literacy at the European Maritime Day conference in May 2022. They met Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries to talk about youth actions, the role of young people in improving ocean literacy and in implementing the Mission Ocean, and more. They gave a youth perspective while speaking in the panel sessions of the EU4Ocean Summit, organised a parallel workshop Youth and Capacity building for Ocean Literacy – Connecting generations through storytelling, and presented their activities and projects in the EU4Ocean booth. During the festival, they showcased their outstanding projects in the streets of Ravenna and cleaned the beaches of Ravenna under the guidance of the National Research Council from Bologna.

    During the day, the Network of European Blue Schools paved the way towards a Charter for blue education, which aims to build bridges across blue education in Europe and bring the ocean to other European school networks.  The declaration was signed by the European Science Marine Educators Association (EMSEA), Portuguese Directorate-General for Maritime Policy, the BlueGeneration Project and the French Office for Biodiversity. The official signing took place in a meeting with the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, who welcomed and recognised the importance of the initiative. 12 teachers from the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, UK, Austria and Italy, attended EMD to present their work in one of the different panels. A class of students from Liceo Linguistico Ilaria Alpi in the nearby town of Cesena participated in the Summit.

    The Summit, supported by the UNESCO as one of the Ocean Decade Actions, kicked off a new series of initiatives, such as the new EU4Ocean Mentoring Programme. The Coalition wants to keep the momentum going, renew the commitment of its members, bring new ocean lovers on board, and pave the way for further progress.

    The Summit was accompanied by the EU4Ocean Coalition booth and exhibition space, where participants could join interactive activities organised by the EU4Ocean members.

    The EU4Ocean Ocean Literacy Festival

    On 21 May, the Ocean Literacy Festival hosted numerous activities organised by the EU4Ocean Coalition members. The Festival connected ocean literacy actors from Europe, and showcased the wide diversity of ocean literacy initiatives already in place.

    Among the many activities, 50 students of the Istituto Tecnico Tecnologico Statale "G. Marconi" cleaned the beaches of Ravenna under the guidance of CNR, the National Research Council from Bologna. The school takes part of the Erasmus+ project Blue Schools Med. 

    Making Europe Blue is our vision!

    A variety of threats including climate change, overfishing and pollution are putting our oceans at risk, and we need to work together to change course.

    The Make Europe Blue campaign has been running for nearly a year, calling on citizens, businesses, organisations, authorities, celebrities and educators to make a pledge to protect the ocean. “Every action – even the smallest one - brings change to our ocean”, is our motto... and one we truly believe in!

    At the EU4Ocean Summit, many visitors made their pledge, too. By sharing it with others – via the #MakeEUBlue hashtag – they can inspire others and take care of our shared ocean together. We can make a difference, one pledge at a time.