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Ocean literacy for all

Although oceans cover seventy-one per cent  of the planet, play a decisive role in regulating the climate, and provide humankind with indispensable resources, they do not feature prominently in school curricula and textbooks. It is from this observation that the concept of ocean literacy – access to knowledge about the ocean – was born.

In the early 2000s, a group of American ocean scientists and teachers campaigned for the inclusion of ocean science in school curricula. The movement then spread around the world. It has also expanded. The idea is not only to improve the knowledge of students, but also to foster a civic awareness of the crucial role that oceans plays in the balance of the planet.

From the beginning, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has played a major role in this movement. In 2012, the IOC organized the first conference on this topic in Europe. Five years later, it was at the forefront of a coalition of institutions and organizations to promote “Ocean Literacy for All” at the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017.

In December the same year, the Commission organized an international Ocean Literacy conference in Venice, Italy. It also launched a handbook, Ocean Literacy for All: A toolkit, which provides resources for schools and institutions. More recently, the IOC launched an international portal providing educational resources for the public.


Latin America declares a war on plastic, The UNESCO Courier, January-March 2021



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