World Oceans Day 2023: “PLANET OCEAN: TIDES ARE CHANGING” IOI Network events held globally

8th June was designated officially as World Oceans Day by the United Nations following paragraph 171 of its resolution 63/111 on Oceans and the Law of the Sea. This celebration has been held annually under a different thematic and the theme of this year’s celebrations was "PLANET OCEAN: TIDES ARE CHANGING."  The IOI joined the rest of the ocean community in celebrating World Oceans Day and, as usual, the global IOI network responded enthusiastically to the invitation to commemorate this day by organising a diverse range of scientific, social and cultural activities. Thanks go to all the contributors for the organisation of events and for supplying photos. Please read on to see how World Oceans Day was celebrated by the IOI network worldwide. All photos courtesy of IOI Centres and Focal Points.




Representatives of IOI Canada participated in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic’s flagship annual WOD event on the Halifax waterfront, which brings together numerous government and non-governmental organisations in public outreach activities.

Peter Wells, IOI Canada SRF and Chair of the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership, with flyer in-hand at the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans “Species at Risk” display.
Peter Wells, IOI Canada SRF and Chair of the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership, with flyer in-hand at the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans “Species at Risk” display.

Director Michael Butler and Senior Research Fellow Peter Wells distributed flyers and posters on IOI Canada and the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership to many of the groups and most importantly reinforced networking with like-minded organisations, including Indigenous representatives. As part of the communication effort, the origin of Ocean Day and the rationale for its global celebration on June 8 each year were explained together with reference to the relevant essay by Peter MacLellan in “The Future of Ocean Governance and Capacity Development: Essays in Honor of Elisabeth Mann Borgese (1918-2002)”, edited by IOI Canada and published by Brill in 2018. 


On 8 June, IOI China, in collaboration with its host center, the National Marine Data and Information Service (NMDIS) organised a field trip to the Changlu Salt Farm in Tianjin, where the participants learnt more about sea salt resources as part of their appreciation of the Blue Economy and its importance historically and economically to coastal stakeholders. The Changlu Salt Farm, formerly known as the Lutai field, was founded in 925 A.D. and has a history of nearly 1,100 years. It was the origin of tribute salt in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and the sea salt it produced was known as "Lutai Jade Sand".  Additionally the field trip illustrated the close linkages with the local ecosystems in the nearby migratory bird sanctuary. Attendees watched the real-time video of the migratory bird sanctuary, observed the migratory birds from a close distance, and climbed up to the observation platform to enjoy the beauty of the “colourful salt field".

In order to further enhance the Ocean literacy of the public, especially the young people, IOI China organised a number of Ocean science popularisation activities during the World Oceans Day, offering public lectures on Ocean knowledge for students in 4 primary and secondary schools. The lectures titled “Caring for the Beautiful Ocean" helped to enhance the students' awareness in understanding, loving, protecting the Ocean, and promoting harmonious coexistence between man and nature. 

Costa Rica

IOI Costa Rica organised, in collaboration with Universidad Nacional (UNA), Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) and the Embassy of France in Costa Rica, a conference titled "Océanos y Sociedades" (Oceans and Societies), 7-10 June. Sergio Cambronero addressed participants via Zoom, from an Oceanographic vessel (R/V Falkor) in open Ocean during the expedition OctoMESS. His address was titled “Costa Rica 92% Ocean: Experiences from Oceanographic expeditions”. Cambronero spoke about the importance of studying the Ocean. The three main topics discussed during this conference were: marine-coastal contamination and impacts; Ocean governance and marine-coastal management; Ocean-climate variability and extreme events.  Mauro Vargas, Director, IOI Costa Rica spoke about Ocean-climate variability and extreme events where the main problems affecting Ocean variability in Central American region were discussed. Scientists from several countries of Central America (Costa Rica, Panama, Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) participated and were involved during the presentations and discussion sessions. 


The whole event was transmitted on Facebook live so everybody could watch it.


IOI Egypt organised two webinars on the 18th and 22nd June. The first webinar attracted 273 participants and focused on this year’s UN World Oceans Day theme, it consisted of 3 lectures on the following topics:  megafauna and sharks; Eco-tourism; marine special planning. The second webinar focused on the Blue Economy with 110 participants and covered: general overview of the Blue Economy concept by Dr Lamiaa Mohamedein (Director IOI Egypt), fisheries in Blue Economy by Prof Alaa El Haweet; the shipping industry by Prof Akram Soliman. 


The IOI Germany host institute, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) commissioned a video shared on social media, where scientists were asked the question “What is the most fascinating thing you have learnt about the Ocean as a marine scientist?”, to inspire Ocean and climate action through positivity. Listen to the fascinating replies here. Raimund Bleishwitz, Director, IOI Germany spoke about coral reefs and the risks posed to them by climate change and about the importance for scientists and all other entities to work together to save them. 


IOI Focal Point Indonesia and Yayasan Karang Lestari Indonesia (YKLI) co-organized a targeted capacity development event on Coral Reef Management using Participatory Modeling. A full day training was held on 27th July 2023 focused on introducing concepts of participatory modeling for coral reef ecosystem management. Participants varied from undergraduate students to lecturers from Universitas Indonesia. The first session of the programme covered: Introduction to System theory; System thinking; Mental model and its implementation on coral reef management. Group discussions using role play scenarios with local stakeholder roles were held in the second session. Discussions were held on the theme of coral reef ecosystem management and the participants’ broad educational backgrounds helped enrich the discussions and the mental model outcome.

IR Iran

IOI IR IRAN, in cooperation with host institute, the Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Science(INIOAS)  celebrated World Oceans Day on 8th June 2023 with a one-day workshop for the children from local areas of Bandar Abbas (a coastal city located on the coasts of the Persian Gulf in south of Iran). Children were given introductory lessons on concept of oceanography and how to protect the seas, emphasizing the concepts of social responsibility toward protecting the marine environment and not littering. Since the event was held in an area of mangrove plantings, the children were also taught about the importance of mangrove trees for the environment. Finally, the participants took an active part in a coastal cleanup in the mangrove-planted areas.



Alan Deidun, Director, IOI Malta, stressed the need for international cooperation to tackle the pressing challenges faced by the World’s Ocean, in an interview with Xinhua. Read the full article here

"Many of the challenges we face extend beyond the confines of a single country and cannot be addressed by a single country but through multi-lateral environmental agreements and cross-border cooperation," Alan Deidun


In another interview for Euronews, Alan Deidun commented "If it wasn't for the Ocean, climate change would be much worse because of higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere," He stressed the importance of Ocean literacy to start changing people’s mindset, behaviour and way of life, to bring about change themselves. Read or listen to the full interview here.


IOI NIGERIA, together with the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, NIOMR (host Institute), commemorated the day with activities highlighting the importance of reducing plastic pollution in the environment and the Ocean since plastic wastes have become serious issues in many countries including Nigeria. Activities for this year’s event highlighted the problems and showcased the success stories of recycling and upcycling (re-use) of plastic wastes locally. NIOMR have been at the forefront of research into marine pollution including impacts of plastic in the environment and IOI Nigeria has been helping in advocating and engaging the stakeholders in highlighting the issues and taking positive action. The audience was called to adopt the options and opportunities that the lecture offered for employment generation (waste-to-wealth) and a cleaner environment.

Welcome speeches were delivered by Centre Director, Akanbi Williams,  Dr Patience Obatola (Director, Fisheries Resources Department), who delivered an address on behalf of Prof Abiodun Sule, Executive Director/ CEO of NIOMR. Antonella Vassallo, Managing Director, IOI HQ, delivered a video message, reiterating the importance of this year’s theme and the call to action “Time to Put the Ocean First”, urging participants to make positive changes in their behaviours by becoming Ocean literate persons who understand that their individual and collective actions on the Ocean impacts our lives and wellbeing. She concluded with a message from IOI founder, Elisabeth Mann Borgese “We must save our Oceans if we are to save ourselves.” 


Mr Adewole Taiwo, a renowned environmental consultant with several years of broad range experiences in waste management, sustainable management and climate change action delivered a presentation on “Plastic Pollution: The Problems and Success Stories in Nigeria ”. 


Below are links to articles published by some of the invited media organisations:  


Professor Azhar Ahmad
Professor Azhar Ahmad

World Ocean day 2023 also marked beginning of the 8th IOI Ocean Academy (Pakistan) course, for IOI Focal Point Pakistan, another success made possible by the hard work and joint efforts from all stakeholders including the participants who showed overwhelming response to the courses. This was also reflected in an increased number of activities conducted to celebrate World Oceans Day this year and that could be partially attributed to the IOI efforts towards spreading Ocean Literacy through the IOI Ocean Academy. Most of the activities in Pakistan were organised either by the faculty or alumni from IOI Ocean academy Pakistan including a YouTube video produced by maritime scholar and faculty member of the Ocean Academy Pakistan - Professor Dr Azhar Ahmad - in coordination with the Pakistan Ocean Academy, about the Ocean. The narration was well supported by illustrations and was specifically targeted for laypersons.  


Dr Jai Acharya, Focal Point IOI Singapore celebrated WOD 2023 as a core event with Indian Maritime University (IMU) at its Vizag Campus with a virtual and physical presence of 400+ viewers/participants during which FP Singapore, as a representative of IOI, delivered a speech as guest of honour during the event. Dr Acharya elaborated on issues regarding biodiversity, over exploitation of the ocean, Ocean pollution, deep sea mining, replanting of mangroves and much more.  On the eve of WOD, various competitions were organized for students.


"...let’s pledge on our commitment to keep our ocean clean & healthy for us and as well as for our future generations!" Dr Jai Acharya

South Africa

IOI South Africa teamed up with Cape Kayak Adventures on the 10 June for a day of celebration in raising awareness on the importance of our Ocean and to promote its conservation. The public was invited for a beach clean-up at Three Anchor Bay beach, which is known to accumulate a lot of litter directly from the Ocean and through rainwater runoff from nearby roads, with the objective to pick up as much of the floating litter as possible. Cape Kayak supported the event and offered complementary trips to the public so that 24 people could assist IOI South Africa staff with the Ocean clean-up. This experience was led by Kirshia Govender, IOI representative and Tracy Rauch, Cape Kayak, and her team of guides to allow for an informed experience highlighting the marine life in Table Bay including the threats to them. 




In collaboration with IOI Thailand’s host institute, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), local communities, marine guard volunteers and more than 20 private sector organisations, the centre organised a one-day event at Lan Hin Khao, Tambol Tapong, Amphoe Muang, Rayong province. The activities in this event consisted of a Marine and Coastal environment exhibition, marine endangered species rescue, beach and underwater cleaning, national and international collaboration in marine and coastal environment, and turtle release. To emphasise the importance of public participation in protecting the Ocean, and marine resources, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment prepared an activity to witness the ceremony of the signing of the memorandum of understanding on the integrated marine debris management project between the government and the private sector in three estuaries i.e Bang Pakong, Ta-chin and Trang. Parallel events were organised by 10 Marine and Coastal Resources Offices, located in different provinces along the two coastlines, Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. 

IOI Thailand Alumni celebrating World Ocean Day 2023

IOI Thailand Alumni and stakeholders organised recreational walks through the park & botanical garden at the Suansri Nakorn KhuanKhan, Samutprakarn, on 4th June, to increase awareness on the sustainable use of marine resources and the environment of Thailand. About 100 participants from governmental agencies, private sector, civil society, and the general public took part. The ceremony was presided over by the Governor of Samutprakarn Province together with government officials from various departments. The event also highlighted the 18 years during which the IOI Alumni  have a chapter in Thailand


Another event was organised on the 8th of June by IOI Alumnus and former IOI Executive Director, Dr Cherdsak Virapat, as part of the webinar series of the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP). The webinar “Planting mangroves for multiple benefits” was delivered by IOI Thailand Training Director Prof Poh Poh Wong.