Today is World Oceans Day! According to the United Nations, World Oceans Day has been celebrated since 1992 and was designated an official celebration by the UN in 2008. The UN says that the goal of this celebration is to “raise global awareness of the benefits humankind derives from the ocean and our individual and collective duty to use its resources sustainably.” Events are held worldwide by aquariums, communities, and other institutions aiming to spread awareness about the plight of the ocean.
Why celebrate the ocean? The UN reports that the oceans are the largest source of protein, supporting more than three billion people that use ocean resources as their primary protein source. Additionally, the UN estimates that more than three billion people depend on ocean biodiversity for their livelihoods. The UN also states that oceans are critical to buffer climate change impacts as they absorb about 30% of excess carbon dioxide from human activities.
The importance and interconnectedness of the world’s oceans are undeniable, and many human actions threaten ocean health. The UN reports that areas in the open ocean have increased in acidity up to 25% since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Additionally, the UN states that coastal eutrophication (nutrient influx and pollution) is expected to increase in 20% of marine ecosystems by 2050. These impacts and several more threaten biodiversity and ecosystem stability.
The theme of this year’s World Oceans Day celebration is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.” The UN says, “Innovation-relating to the introduction of new methods, ideas, or products-is a dynamic term, and one that is fundamentally filled with hope. Oceanic Global hosts the virtual event, and discussion topics range from ocean solutions and entrepreneurs to community engagement and youth leadership.
In 2017, the UN declared 2021-2030 as “The International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.” According to the UN, the goal of this Decade is to “provide a common framework to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries’ actions to sustainably manage the Oceans.”
The United States’ National Ocean Service dedicates the entire month of June to celebrate the Ocean, called “National Ocean Month.”