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How to support United Nations World Oceans Day 2024

With pollution at an all-time high, the ocean needs us now more than ever - here’s how you can help restore our blue planet

Our seas need our support, which is why celebrating United Nations World Oceans Day 2024 is more important than ever. The global event, which takes place every year on 8 June, is an opportunity to come together to raise awareness of the benefits of our ocean and how we can use its resources sustainably. Here’s everything you need to know about World Oceans Day.

Why do we need World Oceans Day?

How To Support United Nations World Oceans Day 2022Pin
Aunk Horwang/ UNworldoceansday.org

The ocean is the planet’s beating heart, covering 70% of the globe, which is why World Oceans Day is a crucial addition to any calendar. Our seas produce 50% of our oxygen, are home to most of earth’s biodiversity and are key to our economy. And yet, their health is more precarious than ever thanks to pollution. Indeed, it makes for incredibly depressing reading. We continue to dump vast quantities of plastic into our oceans – so much so, it’s estimated that by 2050 plastic will outweigh all fish in the sea, with waste exceeding one billion tonnes.

According to research, almost 100 species of marine animals are now affected worldwide (90% of big fish populations are depleted) – with over 500 locations recorded as ‘dead zones’ where marine life simply cannot exist. Instead, our seas are now home to giant floating garbage patches (one is twice the size of Texas). And that’s before we even mention the untold damage caused by chemicals, oil spillages and sewage running into the sea.

What is the theme for this year’s World Oceans Day?

Every year, the United Nations selects a theme for World Oceans Day and in 2024, it is ‘Awaken New Depths’. It is worth noting here that though historically the UN celebrates World Oceans Day annually on 8 June – this year, the celebrations will be on 7 June instead (though many other organisations will continue to mark the occasion on 8 June).

The 2024 theme has been chosen because, say the UN, our relationship with the ocean “needs to urgently change” and our efforts thus far have only skimmed the surface. Thought-leaders, indigenous leaders, policy makers, scientists, managers, artists, community voices, entrepreneurs and artists have all been invited to “motivate widespread momentum … to awaken new depths” as well as take us on a journey of discovery through the ocean’s vastness.

What is World Oceans Day?

How To Support United Nations World Oceans Day 2022Pin
Aunk Horwang/ UNworldoceansday.org

With our oceans at tipping point, on 8 June 1992 the United Nations declared the first World Oceans Day. It was an opportunity for NGOs and civil society to express their views on environmental issues and to highlight the plight of our seas. In 2008, led by Canada, the UN General Assembly resolved that from there on, every 8 June would be designated as ‘World Oceans Day’. 

The event has since grown into a global movement that seeks to catalyse and mobilise collective action towards necessary change. It doesn’t just seek to celebrate all that the ocean gives us every day but highlights the impact of human actions on our seas, bringing together a worldwide movement of citizens to “create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty but instead restores its vibrancy and brings it new life.”

How to get involved in World Oceans Day in London and beyond

How To Support United Nations World Oceans Day 2022Pin
Image by Jamie Anderson courtesy of British Antarctic Survey

There are a host of events – in person and online – on the UN World Oceans Day events page. Here are just a few ways to play your part in supporting our vulnerable seas:

Stream the UN conference live

The United Nations World Oceans Day will be a hybrid affair featuring an in-person event at the UN HQ in New York as well as being broadcast live on 7 June (2pm to 5.30pm GMT). Tune in to hear keynote speakers as they address this year’s theme ‘Awaken New Depths’. 

Marine biologist and explorer Dr Sylvia Earle will be giving a presentation, with other featured speakers including Rayne Sullivan, founder of SEASTORIA, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and singer-songwriter Lomijoh. The winner of the Photo Competition for World Oceans Day 2024 will also be announced. Catch it all on the UN World Oceans Day website, UN Web TV, Oceanic Global website, Oceanic Global Facebook page or LinkedIn.

Follow a blue planet trail

How To Support United Nations World Oceans Day 2024Pin

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich hosts a family-friendly festival on 8 June celebrating the blue planet, with the museum teaming up with Royal Park for the festivities this year. A highlight is the World Oceans Day trail – the self-guided activity trail across the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory invites participants to learn how the ocean makes earth habitable. 

Along the way you’ll meet scientists and ocean experts, take part in creative workshops and have the chance to win special prizes. There’s also a programme of expert-led talks, including sessions with scientists and conservationists, as well art installations (don’t miss Felicity Jones’s installation No Time To Waste), workshops, face painting, music and more throughout the day.

Sign up for a beach clean

How To Support United Nations World Oceans Day 2024Pin
Beach clean, OXO, April 2022

Did you know millions upon millions of pieces of plastic make their way into our oceans every single day, killing hundreds of thousands of mammals, turtles and seabirds? Cleaning up our coastline has never been more important. If you’re near the coast, sign up for a local beach clean to help pick up the harmful plastics, fishing gear and polluting domestic rubbish that washes up on our beaches. 

There are myriad organisations that organise regular beach cleans including the National Trust, Surfers Against Sewage, the Great British Beach Clean and  the Million Mile Clean. The waterways of London also need a helping hand – join a river clean with Thames21. This year the environmental charity is teaming up with Oxo Tower, in a bid to help tidy up the restaurant’s closest waterway, the Thames, on 8 June between 10am to 12.30pm. Or volunteer to become a member of the Canal & River Trust’s Towpath Taskforce which works towards plastic- and litter-free canals.

 

Earthrise x Coral Gardeners

How To Support United Nations World Oceans Day 2024Pin
Noé Langronier, Tavaha Huhina, Coral Gardeners and Bailey Bass

Coral reefs provide a crucial ecosystem for life underwater, as well as protecting coastal areas and providing a source of income for many – and yet coral is incredibly fragile. More than 60% of the world’s coral reefs are under immediate threat from bleaching, which sees rising sea levels and record ocean heat whiten and kill the coral. 

Earthrise, the impact-driven media company for people and planet, has teamed up with Coral Gardeners – a Mo’orea-based organisation who work to save the world’s coral reefs through active restoration efforts – to launch a global campaign on World Oceans Day to restore and protect the world’s corals. The campaign, fronted by Avatar actress Bailey Bass, aims to raise money and awareness for vital coral restoration work. For the duration of World Oceans Month in June, Bass will be joined in Tahiti by the Earthrise storytelling team, led by filmmaker and Earthrise CEO Alice Aedy, to shine a light on the current coral crisis. 

unworldoceansday.org

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