Around the Black Sea Action Day (31st of October), the EU4Ocean Coalition organized the Let’s make the Black Sea Blue event, supported by the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission.
Focusing on marine litter, the Black Sea basin event of the EU4Ocean Coalition offered space for fruitful interactions between young people, teachers, policy-makers and government representatives, NGOs, and all kinds of relevant stakeholders, in creating the Blue Black Sea!
The high-level opening took place on the 29th of October 2021 and the main event on the 5th of November 2021, both online. Between these two events took place the Blue Week at the Black Sea (Ocean Literacy Festival).
On the 29th of October 2021, many high-level representatives welcomed participants and set the scene for the next events. Ocean actors from the Black Sea region presented how their work contributes to supporting Ocean Literacy in the region, challenges, and where is necessary to put priorities. Representatives of the EU4Ocean communities pitch the sessions for the main event for the 5th of November, the #MakeEUBlue campaign was launched in the Black Sea and the Blue week at the Black Sea was presented for the participants.
Blue Week at the Black Sea (Ocean Literacy Festival)
The overall aim of this Ocean Literacy Festival was to connect Black Sea ocean literacy actors and showcase the diversity of ocean literacy initiatives already in place. The events were addressed to everyone interested and dedicated to doing something for the Black Sea.
The Festival Organized by EU4Ocean in the Black Sea region included plogging actions, litter art creations, ‘TikTok Festival‘, a virtual exhibition, and several sides events organized by Black Sea actors.
Several plogging actions took place around the Black Sea. This plogging is a recreational activity, originating in Sweden, that combines jogging with picking up litter.
The plogging idea was promoted in the Black Sea area and schools, citizens, everyone was invited to join this actions, by individuals, in groups, with their friends or family, with their colleagues. Over 1500 people joined this action. The most common type of litter found by the participants was represented by plastic, which continues to be the more common one in our daily life, but also on our beaches, streets and parks.
Putting people in direct contact with the problem of marine litter is easier to make them aware and make them understand the problem and how this affects the sea, but also our life.
Another activity or challenge for people was to create a litter art with the litter that they collected and to post a picture on social media with certain #, the main one being #MakeBlackSeaBlue. We have litter arts that are giving us some signal or messages but also representing some sea marine creatures that are not very happy that their home is polluted.
Also going to the current social media trends, young people joined the Black Sea ‘TikTok Festival‘ and showed their personal connection with the sea. Several TikToks, in which people present the way how they take care of the sea. These tiktoks have over 17K views. That means that followers saw the messages sent by our participants.
Posting pictures with plogging actions, litter art, or videos on social media is the most useful way in which we can make people aware that the sea needs us and need our respect and protection, because the messages that are coming from young people or from friends, citizens, have a bigger impact for the population.
Also, during this Blue Week at the Black Sea took place more events that highlighted the importance of the connection and implementation of common actions for the sea:
- Black Sea Young Ambassadors' Autumn School, organized under Black Sea CONNECT project;
- SEArica event - Marine Litter in the Danube and the Black Sea region: concrete proposals from the regions;
- "BLUE GROWTH INITIATIVE FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION IN THE BLACK SEA", organized by National Institute for Marine Research and Development Grigore Antipa and National Institute for Research and Development on Marine Geology and Geo-ecology.
Let’s Make the Black Sea Blue! - main event, 5th of November 2021
The main event was divided into 3 parallel sessions, addressed to the 3 components of the EU4Ocean Coalition. Each session was attended by relevant stakeholders/participants that are connected with the discussed topic.
Advancing ocean literacy around the topics relevant to the Black Sea, a session dedicated to EU4Ocean Platform Working Groups
During these sessions, representatives of the Working groups presented the activities of the thematic Group „Healthy Ocean” and „Ocean and Climate” of the EU4Ocean. Coordinators and representatives of several projects (EMBLAS, ANEMONE, Marliter, RedMarLiter , LitOUTer, AQUALIT) implemented in the Black Sea region speak about Ocean literacy in the Marine litter projects, the focus on the region being on this hot topic that represents a focus for all riparian countries. Futures Ocean Literacy activities in the Black Sea, that are coming in the next years were presented from DOORS and BRIDGE projects.
Key messages and outcomes:
- We all know that is a global concern, with shared responsibility and the impacts are manifold and include waste safety, food security, economic, ecosystem to mention just a few. But the magnitude of marine waste is not fully known or understood. For this, we need to collaborate, dialogue with all stakeholders, create new partnerships and innovate actions.
- We must make people aware of ocean problems, we need to spread knowledge about sources of pollution, quantify, reduce, and in the end to remove pollutants from the Black Sea. Citizens shall be involved, and we must provide clear, translated, and detailed information, to build initiatives and improve accessibility to resources.
- Another important conclusion is that youth is called on board to be engaged. The new actions will strengthen youth knowledge of the local environment, by addressing Blue Growth issues and ocean literacy. They will act as multipliers.
Mobilizing Youth in the Black Sea, a session dedicated to Youth4Ocean Forum
In the session dedicated to youth, Young Ocean Advocate from the Youth4Ocean and the one's Black Sea Young Ambassadors (CONNECT2BlackSea) had the opportunity to come together, to present their work, discuss and get synergies for future common actions, but also to share these aspects with the others participants in order to make them more aware and interested to be part of the solution.
Key messages and outcomes:
- The Black Sea is a semi-enclosed sea, with specific biodiversity and ecosystem, so need all our protection and common efforts, because the impact on the sea is coming from all of us, no matter if we are living in the riparian countries, or in others, several big rivers are flowing into the sea and haves their final impact here.
- Young people are a very good example of involvement in the problems that seas have and they also can mobilize other youth in these sens.
- In the Black Sea area, the efforts of Youth for Ocean members and Black Sea Young Ambassadors can be combined, by creating synergies, in order to have common actions and a good involvement.
Bringing the sea to the classrooms in the Black Sea countries, a session dedicated to the Network of European Blue Schools
The session dedicated to Blue Schools brings it together with different institutions from the Black Sea. The participants discovered more about this concept and how they can apply to become Blue Schools but also were presented examples of good practices in the region, by the ones that already are Blue Schools.
Key messages and outcomes:
- Always involve students in the creation of ocean literacy activities, no matter if it's something simple as a beach clean-up, or something more complex as a research project.
- Teachers inspire teachers and that is why they need a space for interaction and mutual support.
- Ocean literacy can be very simple and accessible to all teachers and students if they have a nudge in the form of good practice examples, new ideas, and educational resources.
Closing of the event
During the closing session where shared the key messages and results from the sessions of the marine litter, other thematic session work, Young Ocean advocates and Blue Schools; Reactions and key messages from a high level on how for moving forward; the activities that took place in the Black Sea Ocean Literacy festival activities and the #MakeBlackSeaBlue campaign.
Key messages and outcomes:
- Blueing the Black Sea involves us all, from citizens to private companies, NGOs, and up to decision-makers. We all should better communicate, and cooperate towards this goal
- Science is not only for scientists! Disseminate more, interact and allocate time to educate and prepare citizens to get involved. Together we can achieve more!