On June 08, world leaders and advocates met in New York to discuss not only the various ways that they are influencing the revitalization of our ocean, but also potential solutions and collaborations. A common theme discussed at the event was the irreplaceable role the ocean plays in global health and economy. Healthy ocean is a necessary part in meeting the sustainable development goals, as it is a source for food, wealth, and energy. Despite this, pollution has greatly affected the biodiversity and health of the ocean. Increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is in turn making the ocean more acidic and killing the coral reefs, chemical waste and trash from careless producers liter the ocean, and plastics are choking marine life and slowly invading our table and poisoning us as well. These problems have been deemed as crises, which led to several calls for action from around the world.
The World Oceans Day event at the United Nations was a platform for those who are seeking solutions for these problems. Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy of the Youth, emphasized the youth’s role in finding creating solutions for cleaning the ocean. The youth have been making visible, active changes on all levels, but they have struggled to find a platform to share their ideas and gain support. The World Oceans Day sought to provide the means for the innovative ideas to be spotlighted. Leaders from the Permanent Mission of Barbados, Coral Vita, Oceanic Global, Alliance of Small Island States, Billion Oyster Project, and Parley for the Oceans all pitched their solutions and worked to find common grounds on issues such as acquiring adequate funding for projects, encouraging participation by getting people to believe in their mission, and tackling the infrastructural issues that are more resistant to change.
The ocean is a vastly important, but often neglected, part of the Earth. Overfishing, pollution, and carelessness has put marine life in jeopardy. In fact, few studies show that by 2050, the ocean may have more plastics than fish. Some even fear that the ocean may be headed towards a mass extinction of marine life. Unfortunately, the global community has not made adequate progress in protecting the ocean, as ocean health did not receive support and attention that it needed. There is no global institution dedicated to ocean health, and only a few non-profit organizations specialize in cleaning the ocean. After the meeting on World Oceans Day 2018, it is paramount that the world leaders seek to begin prioritizing this issue before it is too late.
Celebrating World Oceans Day – Youth for the SDGs!
Peace Boat offers its ship as an around-the-world venue for advocacy action on the challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS), as it sails the world on educational voyages for peace and sustainability. In the Spring of 2018, Peace Boat invited youth from various countries to join the “Sailing for Sustainability” program, visiting Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam as the ship sailed through Asia. One of the “Youth for the SDGs” scholarship recipients from Barbados, Sade Deane, is the National Coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) in her home country. She is responsible for engagement and participation of youth in environmental and sustainable development issues on a global scale. She also serves as a regional representative in local foras focused on climate change, sustainable land management, disaster risk reduction, marine pollution and sustainable tourism. We look forward to continuing our work towards ocean conservation and climate action together!
To learn more about our youth programs coming up this summer in Latin America, visit our website here : http://bit.ly/peaceboat-us
Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors :
The 97th Voyage delivered an experiential study program which allowed all of the participants to see various ongoing examples of sustainable development. Sade contacted Peace Boat for the opportunity to travel onboard as a youth scholar through the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, among which it had been shared to all of the youth. She states that the most rewarding parts of the trip were the new environment in which people value approaching different ways of learning, the chance she was given to learn more about the connection between peace and sustainability, and of course meeting inspirational young leaders and seeing their positive impact on society. Furthermore, traveling on a ship for the first time in her life contributed to make it all even more exciting. Although she finds herself unable to narrow the whole experience down to only one best part, everything that allowed her to be on the water was what she appreciated the most. Besides traveling on a cruise ship, one of her most memorable experiences on the water in Asia was a boat ride to a local community restaurant for dinner in Cambodia, and the lovely sunset that came along with it.
She considers World Oceans Day on June 8th every year, as a birthday in her career as a development practitioner. Her contribution is as simple as getting hundreds of people to divert up to 60,000 pieces of marine debris annually from the ocean to ensure the underwater world is left with healthy surroundings. When asked what she would do if she could go on the same Peace Boat trip again, she says she would visit more communities, engage them and make them aware of the SDGs in order to relate them back to their own environment. Let’s celebrate World Oceans Day by thinking about our ocean’s health and helping to make a positive difference in our daily environment.
One of the most important lessons for ocean conservation and preserving the livlihood of the communities along the coast was learned in Cambodia. During Sade’s voyage on the Peace Boat, she participated in a mangrove reforestation program in Kampto, Cambodia with a local nonprofit organization. Mangrove swamps are an important part of an ocean’s ecosystem. They are nestled between the land and the ocean, creating shorelines and offering a barrier for the environment against tsunamis and hurricanes. Furthermore, mangroves allow the surrounding region to flourish, coral reefs find greater protection within them, and the area may serve as nurseries for ocean creatures. Endangered species may also find a home there.
Mangroves do not simply serve the interests of their animal inhabitants, however. Local populace in the area may develop a fishing industry as a result of them, finding shrimp and fish to sell to others and improve their own livelihood. This also allows the community to diversify their own income. Furthermore, mangroves may serve as a source of ecotourism, allowing others to visit and learn more about them such as in the case of the visit to Cambodia with the local nonprofit in Kampot.
The youth scholars had a fantastic day filled with adventure and learning beginning with an opportunity to visit a mangrove community center in the city of Kampot, where global citizens conduct mangrove reforestation projects. The youth were able to paddleboard through the mangrove forest, learning a new skill while also enjoying the beautiful nature that surrounded them. They were shown how local groups would utilize them both for economic means and as a source of migration. Peace Boat assisted in planting new seedlings, learning all the while their importance in promoting multiple SDGs, among them, Education, Life below Water, Life on Land, and Climate Action. When the youth reached their destination by paddleboard, they planted 20 mangrove trees and over 300 seedling bags as part of the reforestation project organized with local community members.
This project was initiated as a response to multinational corporations that entered the region with unsustainable development designs. The potential construction would have proved disastrous for the environment, devastating the community. Kampot is a fishing village, but its natural resources have been depleted due to the deforestation of mangrove trees. The youth scholars had the opportunity to talk to the community leader, Mr. Sim Him, and his son, Rosat, who explained the history of the mangrove restoration projects, as well as the challenges the project has faced. Because of the restoration efforts, fisheries are being replenished and mangroves are growing in abundance.
This post was written by Peace Boat US interns : Vittorio, Christian, Vivienne and John.