The importance of Ocean Literacy in the Ocean Decade

Ocean Literacy is a powerful tool to increase awareness and understanding of the critical role and value of the ocean in our lives. Even more important is the potential for Ocean Literacy to impact all stakeholders within a Theory of Change model, from awareness and understanding to attitude changes and ultimately desired behaviour change.

What is the Theory of Change?
“The Theory of Change is a method that organizations and groups use to think critically about the required means to bring a desired social change. It is a process designed to depict how a complex change initiative (e.g. a change of behaviour towards the ocean) will unfold over time. It creates an illustration of all the various moving parts that must operate in accordance to bring a desired outcome” (Adapted from UN-Habitat, 2017).

Research has shown that Ocean Literacy can effectively drive these shifts when tailored information and content are delivered to targeted stakeholders. These research findings help to validate the critical importance of Ocean Literacy and the value of its contributions to the success of the Ocean Decade. This value cannot be overstated.

The Ocean Decade will support the development of Ocean Literacy – Ocean Decade Actions that will be identified, implemented, and resourced by global partners as part of the Ocean Decade Action Framework. These Actions will stimulate innovation; increase knowledge; communicate and promote the role of ocean science for sustainable development; and increase access to Ocean Literacy approaches across different stakeholder groups. Through these Actions, Ocean Literacy will also play an essential role in achieving desired behaviour changes that are fundamental to the overall success of the Ocean Decade, including: promoting sound public educational policy; fostering more responsible behaviours; increasing investment in ocean science; encouraging more ocean-aware corporate practices; and encouraging young people to start a career in the sustainable ocean economy, ocean science, marine policy or ocean conservation/ management.

This Ocean Literacy Framework for Action (the Framework) builds on the Ocean Decade Action Framework developed in the Implementation Plan to provide all stakeholders with further insights into how Ocean Literacy supports the Ocean Decade, as well as how Ocean Literacy Actions can be designed to contribute to the Ocean Decade Challenges and Objectives. The Framework is an invitation for all stakeholders to develop Ocean Decade Actions and any collaborations, partnerships and networks needed to: expand access; to showcase and share Ocean Literacy tools; and to increase the research, monitoring and evaluation of the impacts of Ocean Literacy.

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About the Ocean Decade:

Proclaimed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable development (2021-2030) seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyze new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.

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