Our Ocean – An ocean of potential

By Marina Grissin, Education Officer for Common Seas in Greece

“If the ocean fails, we fail. You have a vested interest to put all your energy and power to drive change”.

Dr. Sylvia Alice Earle, addressing 100 young ocean champions in the Youth Leadership Summit, at the 9th Our Ocean Conference in Athens – Greece

Why is involving youth important?

Solving the plastic problem will take generations, so it is vital that we educate the young people who will inherit the task.

Our Ocean Conference 2024 brought together 30,000 people, from governments to academia, the private sector and NGOs, to build dialogue and align governance on the protection of the ocean.

The conference
The conference

Preceding the main event, the youth delegates gathered for the Youth Leadership Summit, sharing their vision for ocean sustainability, while collaboratively designing a pledge to guide their future endeavours. Their energy was positive, their clothing was colourful, and their demeanour determined.

The conversation benchmark was that Our Ocean attendants already know the troubling facts, the only question: “What will we do about it?”.

It was great to see these future leaders and innovators became the catalyst of solution driven discussions during the official panels of the conference, challenging government commitments and pushing for urgent action. Their input and drive for change asserted the need for youth representation in global sustainability forums.

As activists and professionals in the field, they want to have a positive impact on the planet, and they want to do it collaboratively for a just and equitable future. They bring solutions to the table and an irrefutable case of why caring for the ocean matters.

Sylvia Earle addressing the conference
Sylvia Earle addressing the conference

Youth Leadership Activities

Kicking off the Youth Leadership Summit, HELMEPA (Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association) organized a huge beach clean, followed by welcome drinks overlooking the port of Piraeus. The night was full of passionate conversations around ocean sustainability, legislation and the need for hands-on initiatives, as the youth delegates got to promote their work, discuss the challenges they face, and network with like-minded ocean activists.

On Monday, April 15th 2024, during the official Youth Leadership Summit, young participants engaged in mentoring sessions with distinguished experts in the blue economy and designed a powerful pledge, rooted in UN SDGs, to drive positive change towards ocean sustainability. The sessions were designed to foster innovation and collaboration, while ensuring the voices of youth were heard at a senior international level.

The beach clean-up
The beach clean-up

How is Common Seas work relevant?

Common Seas designs and demonstrates solutions that tackle global marine plastic pollution at its source. A big part of our work is educating and inspiring the next generation to make changes in their school and community, while empowering them to be part of the solution.

Developed using UNESCO’s Environmental Education Framework, and aligned to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, we have created globally relevant resources that provide deep learning experiences, developing knowledge, skills and confidence for a better future.

If you are an educator, take a look at our educational resources and empower the next ocean warriors.

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