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Reflections on the first-ever Ocean Literacy World Conference in Venice

18 June 2024

Amy Kenworthy, our Ocean Acidification Research for Sustainability Programme Officer and science communicator involved in the ProBleu project, attended the first Ocean Literacy World Conference, held on June 7-8 in Venice, Italy. This conference marked a significant milestone in global efforts to enhance our understanding and relationship with the ocean.
Venice, Italy

Organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, in collaboration with the Government of Italy, the Municipality of Venice, and the Prada Group, this event brought together leading international experts in ocean literacy and education from various sectors.  

The conference served as a global platform for exchanging ideas, knowledge, and best practices in ocean literacy. Participants included educators, scientists, policymakers, and representatives from non-governmental organizations and the private sector. This diverse assembly underscored the universal importance of ocean literacy in addressing the challenges facing our marine environments.  

Throughout the two-day event, various sessions and workshops highlighted different approaches to ocean education. Keynote speakers delivered insightful talks on the role of ocean literacy in restoring humanity’s relationship with the ocean, an urgent requirement if we are to protect and restore our ocean and, consequently, humanity.  

Amy mentioned ‘It was good to catch up with and hear the Co-chair of UN Ocean Decade Vision 2030 Working Group 10: ‘Change humanity’s relationship with the ocean’, Nicola Bridge who is also a long-term Plymouth Marine Laboratory collaborator, speak about the ‘importance of connecting people with the ocean and the role that ocean literacy plays in supporting that’.  

The White Paper 10 developed by this working group and published in June 2024, delves into the resources, infrastructure, partnerships, capacity development, and technology solutions necessary to “Ensure that the multiple values and services of the ocean for human wellbeing, culture, and sustainable development are widely understood, that society-ocean connections are strengthened, and that there is increased motivation, capability, and opportunity for people across all sectors of society to make decisions and behave in ways that ensure a healthy ocean.”  

Gennadi Lessin who coordinates the impact from PML’s ocean literacy activities mentioned ‘we will use this white paper as a guide to promote an understanding of the ocean's influence on our lives and the impact we have on our ocean. We aim to continue to look to inspire interest, foster emotional connections, and empower individuals to make informed decisions and changes in behaviour that contribute to the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of the ocean’. By attending the conference, Amy was able to share on ocean literacy activities at PML and develop further collaborations in this space as well as gathering new knowledge and inspiration for PML’s ocean literacy activities going forward.   

The Venice Declaration 

A significant outcome of the conference was the adoption of the Venice Declaration. The Declaration is designed to catalyse a new wave of action to establish ocean literacy in the spheres of education, science, policy, economics, and culture. It urges the governments of France and Costa Rica, as co-hosts of the upcoming 2025 United Nations Ocean Conference in Nice (UNOC 3), as well as all UN Member States and other stakeholders, to place ocean literacy at the forefront of the conference agenda. PML are proud to have been a part of the ocean literacy community for years now and committed to enacting the actions outlined in the Declaration. We support the call for increased robust partnerships with local and Indigenous communities, educational and scientific institutions, businesses, and the broader public.  

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Above: Amy announcing one of the Actions of the Venice Declaration. 

Moving Forward 

The Ocean Literacy World Conference in Venice not only celebrated the progress made in ocean education but also set the stage for future initiatives. The collaborative spirit and shared vision demonstrated at the conference will undoubtedly propel us towards a more informed and engaged global community. By continuing to connect people with the ocean, we can foster a deeper appreciation for its wonders and a stronger commitment to its preservation. 

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