On Thursday the 2nd of December, the members of the EU4Ocean Platform met online to look back at what it has been achieved over the past year, in particular reflecting on the added value of the EU4Ocean Platform and its activities for its members and its audience, and discuss the next steps. Here we report some of the highlights and main points discussed during the meeting.
After the welcome and introduction given by the EU4Ocean Platform facilitator Nathalie Van Isacker (Seascape Belgium), Farah Obaidullah (Ocean Advocate, Consultant & Founder of Women4Oceans) renewed the invite to the members of the Platform to add their pledges about the Ocean to the ‘Make EU Blue’ campaign website. This invite to join many other illustrious testimonials among citizens, businesses, organisations, authorities, and celebrities who have already committed to an action that can benefit the Ocean is open to all the IOLN members.
The next point on the agenda was to showcase the success of all the Ocean Literacy festivals organised by the members of the EU4Ocean Platform in the various European sea basins over the last months.
Iwona Gin (Nausicaa) reported on the first festival that was organised fully online on the 22nd of May (on the occasion of the European Maritime Day) by the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea community. The IOLN contributed to the festival with a day-long range of online activities ranging from talks, drawing classes, music pieces to youth advocates stories, and films:
Angela Schultz-Zehden (SUBMARINER Network for Blue Growth) reflected on the second Ocean Literacy festival that was organised in the Baltic Sea on the 26th and the 27th of August of 2021, fully online:
The next festival was organised in the Mediterranean Sea basin around Med Coast Day (September 25th). Pierre Strosser (ACTeon) described how the festival combined a rich and diverse programme on-site, in digital and in hybrid format, organised in different Mediterranean locations:
Finally, Marian Paiu (Mare Nostrum) reported on the last Ocean Literacy festival of 2021 that was held in the Black Sea, again as a hybrid event. The Black Sea Ocean Literacy festival started on Black Sea Action Day (31st of October) and was part of the wider EU4Ocean Coalition Black Sea basin event (October 29 – November 5), which aimed at bringing ocean literacy to everybody’s mind, soul and actions in the Black Sea.
One additional Ocean Literacy festival about the Arctic Ocean will be organised in February 2022, and, as an introduction to it, Arne Riedel (Ecologic Institute) gave a talk during the meeting about the podcast ‘If Oceans Could Speak’, a bottom-up, inclusive initiative aimed at uniting the voices of Europeans to make the Ocean a concern of everyone.
The EU4Ocean Platform meeting was also an opportunity to share some other successful ongoing initiatives carried out by members of the broader EU4Ocean Coalition, as for instance:
- The ‘Coastal Code for the Bay of Santander’, a guide for the sustainable use of the bay of Santander presented by Gabriela Mayans (Navigatio);
- Izabela Kotynska-Zielinski (Today We Have) presented the project ‘I Live by the Sea’, dedicated to young learners of ages 9-18 who want to expand their knowledge regarding the Ocean, with a particular focus on the Baltic Sea.
- Evy Copejans (EMSEA) & Francesca Alvisi, (Ismar-CNR) shared an update about the Network of European Blue Schools, which counts two Irish Blue Schools, i. e. the St. Nicholas’ Parochial School in Galway and the Kilglass National School.
- Guillaume Lheureux (World Ocean Network) & Marianna Terzidaki (Blue Generation Project Coordinator) described exciting opportunities available for passionate young people under age 30 to become Ocean Advocates for the Youth4Ocean Forum or to pursue a sustainable career in the Blue Economy with the help of the Blue Generation Project.
The final part of the EU4Ocean Platform meeting on the 2nd of December was dedicated to the discussion about the future. In this view, Angel Muniz Piniella (European Marine Board) shared the link to a survey that was developed to allow all the EU4Ocean Platform members to express their opinion about how to better plan initiatives for the future and coordinate joint grant applications. IOLN members can participate to the survey following this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdOzsawm8sGweSzEONz2W2sNG1bdfuouQAYNjn5vLMBt9NZew/viewform.
An important appointment of the near future announced during the meeting is the EU4Ocean Platform Summit that will take place between Spring and Summer 2022. The Summit aims at showcasing all the successes and initiatives carried out by the Platform members so far. Again, Kate Larkin (Seascape Belgium) invited all members of the Platform to contribute submitting their ideas and suggestions for the organisation of the Summit.
Finally, still in the view of reflecting on what has been done so far and discussing possible future directions, over the 2nd and 3rd of December the EU4Ocean Platform members were invited to join the thematic meetings for each of the three Working Groups of the Platform which are focused on Climate and Ocean, Food from the Ocean, and a Healthy and Clean Ocean.