Today (June 8) is celebrated as World Oceans Day across the world to remind the people about the importance of the role played by oceans in the lives of human beings.
The day is celebrated by United Nations to highlight the role of the oceans in everyday life and inspires action to protect the ocean and sustainably use marine resources.
When we think of public health risks, we may not think of the ocean. Increasingly, however, the health of the ocean is intimately tied to our health. Some may be surprised to read that organisms discovered at extreme depths are used to speed up the detection of Covid-19, and probably even more to learn that, it is the environment that could give a solution to humankind.
Our ocean is our future
This is one of the multiple reasons why we should celebrate World Oceans Day: to remind everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe. The purpose of the Day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans. They are a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere. In the end, it is a day to celebrate together the beauty, the wealth and the promise of the ocean.
As the challenges to the ocean continue to grow, so does the need for novel solutions and the people driving them.
To that end, the theme of UN World Oceans Day 2020 is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.” Innovation—relating to the introduction of new methods, ideas, or products—is a dynamic term, and one that is fundamentally filled with hope.
The UN World Oceans Day celebration this year will take place as a virtual event produced in partnership with Oceanic Global.
The event will shed light on innovations from around the globe in areas of need that are both promising and proven, ones that instill optimism, and ones that have demonstrated the ability to scale effectively. It will also provide a platform to thought leaders of varied backgrounds, who are paving new paths forward for the health of our ocean and our planet.
The programming of the day and subsequent events taking place throughout World Ocean Week (week of 8 June 2020) will explore innovations across categories including technology, systems infrastructure, resource management, consumer products, finance and scientific exploration — and will outline how these innovations can be applied, their potential impact, and the resources needed to transform them into long-lasting solutions.
This year’s theme is especially relevant in the lead-up to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which will run from 2021 to 2030. The Decade will strengthen international cooperation to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society.
The One Ocean Hub is hosting several panel discussions and webinars. All events are free.
- Tuesday 9 June at 14h00 – 15h30 SAST: Science to Policy roundtable, discussing the challenges of balancing advocacy and scientific advice, as well as the role of funding for enhancing the science-policy interface. Included on the panel is Kirsty McQuaid (University of Plymouth and NMU) and Rachel Wynberg (UCT).
- Wednesday 10 June at 15h00 – 16h30 SAST: Wonders of the Deep, where scientists will share beautiful images and videos of the deep sea (including from South Africa) and discuss challenges and opportunities for deep-sea research and capacity development. Amongst others, this event features Kerry Sink (SANBI), Loyiso Dunga (SANBI and NMU), Grant van der Heever (SAEON), and Kirsty McQuaid (UoP and NMU).
- Wednesday 10 June at 20h00 – 21h30 SAST: Studying the Sea, a panel discussion where audience members will hear about the career trajectories of different marine researchers and have the opportunity to ask questions about pursuing a career in this field. Featuring Kerry Sink (SANBI), and hosted by Kirsty McQuaid (UoP and NMU).
- Friday 12 June at 20h00 – 21h30 SAST: Breaking laws on the sea, From narco-submarines to illegal fisheries, this webinar explores the complexities around quantifying, managing and combating the illegal activities that occur on our oceans. Panellists include Dr Dyhia Belhabib, (EcoTrust Canada), Prof Moeniba Isaacs, (PLAAS, University of the Western Cape), Dr Javier Guerrero C (Metropolitan Technology Institute, Medellin, Colombia) and Kimone de Greef (Freelance journalist).
Visit the UN World Oceans Day website for more information.