In representation of the IOI, Antonella Vassallo, Managing Director, IOI HQ, was invited by the organisers of the 5th ICSE to deliver a keynote contribution to the launch of the Conference on Sustainability Education. The underlying thematic of her speech was the importance of increasing global Ocean literacy to achieve sustainability and effective climate action. This link is especially important when considering the critical Ocean-Climate interactions underpinning changing climate conditions and hence the safety and security of all stakeholders, and especially of vulnerable communities which so often bear the brunt of devastating climate change impacts. Bringing to the Conference’s attention the critical importance of Ocean ecosystem services such as global oxygen production, food security and fisheries, the importance of the Blue economy, and the role of the Ocean in modulating the planet’s climate, education and literacy about the Ocean was firmly established as a critical topic to be included in sustainability education.
Building a multi-country, civil society partnership to increase the resilience of coastal populations in South Asia, 19th September, SPECIAL THEMATIC SESSION
Additionally, and under the excellent organisation of IOI Ocean Academy India partners TERRE POLICY, a special thematic session focused specifically on coastal communities as typical beneficiaries of increased Ocean literacy in South Asia. The concept of the Session was to illustrate how the life and livelihood of coastal communities largely depends on the Ocean and its sustainable governance. Ocean Literacy is important for people to understand how they are impacted by, and conversely impact, the planet’s environment. Ocean knowledge - especially in local communities – should contribute to facilitate sustainable living. The panel discussion highlighted the importance of knowledge and the implementation by the local communities to achieve a healthy environment and sustainability. The overall objectives of the session were to highlight the need for Ocean literacy among local communities, address the need for cumulative conservation plans, and help people develop a connection with the planet beyond the landmass.
Session Chair Leonard Sonnenschein (President, Conservation for the Ocean Foundation) led a panel of speakers (Antonella Vassallo, Managing Director, IOI; Sunil Murlidhar Shastri, Director IOI Ocean Academy, India; Kanna K Siripurapu, Sr Fellow, SaciWATERs), ably moderated by Vinita Apte, Founder Director, TERRE Policy Centre and Director, IOI Ocean Academy.
Antonella Vassallo presented the IOI Ocean Academy global programme as an effective example of Educating for Climate Action and Sustainability by increasing the Ocean Literacy of laypersons worldwide. By making an effort to equitably provide Ocean knowledge to the public with no barriers of age, access, education, or language, the global IOI Ocean Academy was indeed an effective model in achieving the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. The IOI recognised with gratitude the efforts and dedication of the IOI Ocean Academy partners worldwide for implementing this ambitious Ocean literacy project, especially the partner team working for the India programme.
Sunil Murlidhar Shastri further strengthened this concept and the achievements of the IOI Ocean Academy India organised in partnership with TERRE Policy NGO. Linking literacy and conservation, he quoted Senegalese Forestry Engineer Baba Dioum “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. And we will understand only what we are taught”. Explaining the expansion plans for India, Shastri announced the delivery of more programmes nationally, to reach different strata of society, and in more regional languages. Summing up the session he quoted “It’s not the end of the problem, but the solutions must begin somewhere”.
Session recommendations and outcomes highlighted the need to make Ocean knowledge accessible, easy to understand and relatable for all, at all ages; to educate professionals and policy makers in their early to mid-career stage; to solve issues by applying a combination of Ocean knowledge and implementation; and to involve local communities in conservation and protection practices.