About the Working Groups
The EU4Ocean Platform members are motivated to connect, shape and innovate ocean literacy actions, and build on existing capability, strengthen existing alliances and form new partnerships across domains, sectors and generations.
In 2020-2022, EU4Ocean Platform members contributed to at least one (or more) of the thematic Working Groups (WG), with the main aims to:
- Exchange and map existing activities & resources for joint ocean literacy activities;
- Develop new partnerships and actions for ocean literacy, including scaling up activities and advocacy campaigns;
- Identify quick wins to bring existing ocean literacy activities together for EU4Ocean;
- Help identify other stakeholders that could contribute and grow the EU4Ocean platform membership, network and impact down to regional sea, national and local levels.
In September 2020, the Working Groups met for the first time in three separate online meetings. These first meetings served as a starting point for the WG members to find common ground, and start exploring ways to collaborate. As a common denominator, all members of the different Working Groups agreed that their strength was the broad range of audiences all the members can target. In all Platform and WG activities, integration and collaboration are promoted with the Youth4Ocean Forum and Network of European Blue Schools components.
After two years of working together, engaged in activities, discussions and events, EU4Ocean Platform members provided some testimonials of the added value of being involved in the Platform and its Working Groups.
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WG on Climate and Ocean
This Working Group was chaired by Tymon Zielinski, from the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IO PAN). The main aim of this Working Group was to connect, link and eventually coordinate activities, especially for indicated dates (e.g. World Ocean Day).
During the first meeting in September 2020, the WG members discussed two approaches for Ocean literacy in this area: one is explaining and increasing awareness of the links between the Ocean and climate; the other one is presenting and discussing holistic and inclusive actions to transform behavior, mitigate and adapt to climate and Ocean change. The members also agreed on having an inventory of resources available, highlighting the target audience. Continuing these discussions on the target audiences at the second meeting in December 2020, the participants of the meeting were divided into 3 breakout discussions according to their target audience, namely public decision makers (i.e. authorities), private decision makers (i.e. industry) and daily decision makers (i.e. citizens). During these discussions, members saw synergies especially at sea-basin level, the importance of gathering inspiring success stories and the alignment of activities and events around specific dates. From early 2021, the efforts focused on developing and launching the #MakeEUBlue advocacy campaign, launched in May 2021, to which many members contributed by providing Ocean facts on the links between climate and Ocean and made pledges with their commitments. The third meeting in December 2021 was organized in the aftermath of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. Two members of the Youth4Ocean Forum presented their experience as participants of the conference and what they extracted from such an event, mainly the inspiring people, stories and the energy that was around the conference. After a brief discussion, the participants highlighted again the need to have a way to exchange events and ideas, to foster exchange of Ocean Literacy activities and material, encouraging the adaptation, translation, and reuse of educational materials, and increasing the visibility of dissemination efforts at the regional and national levels. This was also referred to in a dedicated cross-sector thematic dialogues at the EU4Ocean summit in May 2022 titled ‘Ocean, Climate & Youth: to listen and act’ which discussed how intergenerational cooperation (incl. promoting the presence of the Ocean in school curricula), and personal and emotional connections to the Ocean are essential to face the challenges, and inspire people towards action.
WG on Food from the Ocean
This Working Group was chaired by Gesche Krause from the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Germany and Jens Ambsdorf from the Lighthouse Foundation in Germany (Gesche Krause replaced Jens Ambsdorf in September 2020). The focus of the discussions was on sustainability issues related to food from the Ocean, as this topic includes cultural, economic and environmental considerations.
After the first meeting in September 2020, the WG members suggested that Ocean literacy activities on this area should focus on presenting examples or stories on opportunities for sustainable transformation in the way we obtain food from the Ocean. These conversations continued during the second meeting in December 2020, including comparisons in cultural perceptions when approaching food from the Ocean, and the perspective of the youth as the consumers of tomorrow, among other topics. From early 2021, the efforts focused on developing and launching the #MakeEUBlue advocacy campaign, launched in May 2021, in which many members contributed in providing Ocean facts on food from the Ocean and made pledges with their commitments. The third meeting in December 2021 continued the discussions on the changes of narratives coming from the Ocean, and how non-traditional sources of food (to Europeans), mainly seaweed, jellyfish and sea plants, could serve as an opportunity to bring sustainability to the core, expanding and diversifying their use as a food resource. Around the same time, the European Commission launched the EU4Algae initiative in early 2022, with many industry players involved, and the EU4Algae coordinators were approached to find synergies. This resulted in a dedicated cross-sector thematic dialogue at the EU4Ocean summit in May 2022 titled ‘Algae: (re-) discovering food from the Ocean’, in collaboration with the EU4Algae initiative.
WG on Healthy and Clean Ocean
This Working Group was chaired by Francesca Alvisi from the Institute of Marine Science from the National Research Council (CNR-ISMAR) and the Ocean Literacy network in Italy and Elisa Baldrighi from the Ocean Literacy network (Francesca Alvisi replaced Elisa Baldrighi in November 2021). The focus of the discussions was on the need to increase awareness in landlocked/ inland populations of their connection to the Ocean, whether they access it or not.
After the first meeting in September 2020, many ideas were proposed, mostly linked to achieving behavioral change to achieve a clean and healthy Ocean. This included a suggestion to develop a coastal code for people accessing the coast with a set of rules and considerations, and providing alternatives to typical behaviors; and a photography campaign promoting how all the water (inland) is eventually linked to the Ocean. Aiming to continue to work together as a Working Group, the second meeting in December 2020 aimed to co-develop a “coastal code” framework, led by EU4Ocean Platform member Navigatio Santander, in order to have the possibility to implement it in areas around Europe. During this meeting, suggestions of similar processes, subjects, and possible indicators of success and evaluation were proposed. The Coastal Code for the Bay of Santander was launched at a dedicated event in November 2021, with participants from local authorities, schools and international invitees. In addition, other EU4Ocean Platform members have shown interest in developing similar coastal codes along their coasts in Europe. From early 2021, the efforts focused on developing and launching the #MakeEUBlue advocacy campaign, launched in May 2021, in which many members contributed in providing Ocean facts on the health of the Ocean and pollution present in it, and made pledges with their commitments. The third meeting in December 2021 showed the story of the Coastal Code from Navigatio and the members went deeper into the discussion on the connection between the inland environment and a healthy and clean Ocean. Aligning with the “I live by the Sea International Youth Photo and Film Contest” from EU4Ocean Platform member Today We Have, a special call for entries for the contest was created, trying to reinforce the entries showing the intrinsic interactions between the inland and marine environment. These connections were also highlighted at the dedicated cross-sector thematic dialogues at the EU4Ocean summit in May 2022 titled ‘Walking on the sea traces: bringing a Healthy and Clean Ocean to inland’, where the winners of the contest were announced.