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Our children: ocean champions of the future

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries


f you’re reading this you are probably on an aeroplane, on your way to or from Malta. Look out your window at the blue water, sparkling beneath the sun. It's beautiful, isn't it? From the dawn of human history, we've been fascinated by the ocean. We’ve also depended upon it. Now, we must protect it. The European Union has shown its commitment to protecting our ocean with numerous actions. Hosting the Our Ocean conference in Malta on 5-6 October is one of them. The conference will bring together world leaders in ocean conservation to collaborate for the sustainable management of our seas and ocean. However, we also understand that protecting the oceans goes beyond political decision making – all people must be actively involved. Therefore, the European Union is working to deepen our citizens’ ocean literacy, and their personal commitment to this essential objective. Our actions to involve citizens have been especially focused on youth.

Young people and their participation in protecting our ocean are essential to secure its health and sustainability. The findings of today’s scientists and researchers are working to equip the next generation with essential knowledge about marine environments, the threats they face, and potential solutions to be developed; and the European Union is working to support them as tomorrow’s ocean champions. Earlier this year and in connection with the Our Ocean conference, we launched an initiative that is very dear to my heart. We involved Maltese students in a project very aptly named 'Malta's Schools Love Our Ocean'. This school project teaches them about marine environments, and the ecosystems and amazing biodiversity that can be found in them. It also empowers them to take action, with each participating school designing and carrying out its own initiative for our ocean. Also, taking place in parallel to the conference, the European Union, the Sustainable Oceans Alliance, and


the University of Malta will co-host the second summit of young ocean leaders. Our Ocean, An Ocean For Life Leadership Summit will bring together the next generation of entrepreneurs, political and civil society leaders, scientists and researchers to present their own ocean solutions and work together to create new ones. Along with the summit, the University of Malta will host the fifth Conference of the European Marine Science Educators Association (7-10 October). Participants will discuss how to promote ocean literacy and make it part and parcel of school curricula – an objective that I very much support as one of the keys to guaranteeing the health of our ocean for many generations to come. Every opportunity to protect our ocean is one we can’t afford to miss – our future literally depends on it. Taking care of our ocean's health means taking care of our own wellbeing. And we need everybody – first and foremost our youth – for this huge endeavour to be successful.

Find out more at www.ourocean2017.org or contact us via email at MARE-OOC-2017_BUSINESS@ec.europa.eu #OurOcean

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