The Irish Ocean Literacy Network was one of the ten organisations to sign the new Charter for Blue Education in Europe developed within the frame of the EU4Ocean Coalition and its Network of Blue schools. This Charter is expected to: (i) promote synergies between signing initiatives, facilitating in particular the sharing of experiences and development of “good practice”; (ii) support new collaborations that will strengthen blue education in Europe; (iii) raise the societal and political visibility and profile of blue education, so that the right conditions supporting blue education, and “sustainable” education more widely, are progressively put in place.
The process for co-developing the Charter started at the European Maritime Forum 2022 in Ravenna (Italy) on the 19-20th of May, when four organisations supporting blue education in Europe signed a declaration entitled ‘Paving the way to a Charter for Blue Education in Europe’. The declaration was the first “visible” step in the development of the Charter, with the signing organisations:
- Confirming their engagement with blue education, supporting societal transformation in Europe;
- Agreeing to combine their experiences to steer the co-development of a new Charter for Blue Education in Europe;
- Inviting other European and global education networks and initiatives to join this co-development process and to sign this new Charter at UN Ocean 2022, as one of Europe’s contributions to the sustainable protection and management of the ocean and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
- Committing to the practical application of the principles of this new Charter in all their activities after its signature.
The four organizations to sign this initial document were the European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA), the BlueGeneration Project Network, the Direção-General de Política do Mar (DGPM) of the Ministério da Economia e do Mar (Portugal), supporting the Escola Azul network in Portugal, and the Office Français pour la Biodiversité (OFB, which manages the Aires Marine Educatives in France). These first organisations were soon joined in the co-development process by other six groups who had shown equal commitment in the promotion of ocean literacy in their countries, i. e. the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, the Oceano Azul Foundation, the Centre for Sea and Society of the University of Gothenburg, Ciência Viva, ACTeon and, indeed, the Irish Ocean Literacy Network.
The so co-developed Charter, titled ‘Supporting Transformative Changes to Deliver Ocean Sustainability’, was signed by the ten promoting organisations during its official presentation that took place in Lisbon (Portugal) at the UN Ocean 2022 on June 29 during a session dedicated to blue education. Dr Maria Vittoria Marra, Education and Public Engagement Officer at Galway Atlantaquaria, signed on the behalf of the IOLN as current Co-Secretary of the Network. A downloadable version of the Charter can be found below.