World Oceans Day 2018
Clean Our Ocean -Innovation and Youth
The rapidly declining health of our oceans should be of serious concern to the global community. If we do not take immediate action on this matter, there will be grave irreversible consequences. Overfishing, plastic, and chemical pollution are the primary sources of ocean contamination. As the problem progresses, the only solution is youth engagement. Tapping into this undervalued source of creativity is our only hope in changing the course of this phenomenon. Through youth engagement initiatives, young adults are laying the groundwork to prepare the youth to tackle this problem.
As billions of people depend on the ocean as their primary food source, it would be disastrous if fish populations were depleted. The only way to combat overfishing is through sustainable fishing. If done properly, it will prevent severe food shortages and save economies that depend on fishing and the ocean based activities. Unfortunately, by 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Because healthy oceans help reduce poverty and hunger, as global citizens it is in our best interest to preserve this precious resource. Since oceans are severely over fished and millions of pounds of bycatch is thrown away, it will not be possible to sustain human life. As Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, proclaimed, meaningful youth inclusion is crucial to solving this problem. Additionally, sustainable development goal (SDG 14), which addresses conserving and sustaining the ocean, will not be possible without the assistance of young people.
Ms Angelique Pouponneau, Co-founder of SIDS Youth AIMS Hub, elaborated on her ocean conservation initiatives in the Seychelles. She explained that many of the young people on the Island want to have an active role in keeping the Ocean healthy. Since they are surrounded by water, the people of the island have a deep connection to the ocean. However, she faced a major problem in recruiting young people- many of them did not know how to swim.
To increase youth engagement, her organization taught young people how to swim. Having this skill set enabled them to engage in ocean clean ups and not be afraid of the water. Significantly, the swimming lessons united the youth in the community to actively engage in keeping their ocean healthy.
Ms Juliette Babb Riley cited that Barbados stands to be severely impacted by the unsustainable use of the ocean. The Bajan government recognizes this hazard and is actively formulating policy to support ocean sustainability. Since their economy largely depends on activities that involve the ocean, it is in the interests of their economic future to save it.
Mr Sam Teicher, Founder and Chief Reef Officer of Coral Vita, noted that half the world's reefs have died since the 1970's. As a coral farmer, he works on coral restoration projects. This includes: restoring native fish populations that live in coral and rehabilitating it. Because coral plays a large role in the coastal economy, efforts to restore it are vital to economic stability and growth.
Mr Peter Malinowski, Executive Director of the Billion Oyster Project described his work with youth on oyster conservation. His organization works to restore the oyster population in the New York harbor to its former glory of 220,000 acres of oyster reefs. Conservation efforts are done be working with local students to engage in the process of oyster conservation. For example, while giving his presentation, he invited one of his students to explain their conservation work. She illustrated how he works with her class to grow oysters with a cage like structure and biodegradable materials.
Ms Lea d'Auriol, the founder of Oceanic Globacities contended, that broadening the conversation about ocean conservation would incorporate different perspectives on how to maintain healthy oceans.
To brainstorm ideas on sustainability projects, she collaborated with musicians, artists, educators, and NGOs. Focusing on the what can be done on an individual level enables each person involved to make an impact. Collectively, this strategy works to change the culture of conservation, make it part of everyday life, and proliferate sustainability concepts.