On the occasion of the One Ocean Summit taking place in Brest, France, UNESCO announced it has set itself the goal of including ocean education in the school curricula of its 193 Member States by 2025. To achieve this goal, the United Nations agency is making available to public decision-makers a toolkit with a shared reference framework of educational content on the ocean.
”The international community must make education one of the pillars of its action for the ocean. Because if we want to protect it better, we must teach it better. On the occasion of the One Ocean Summit, I am setting a common objective for our 193 Member States: to include ocean education in school curricula by 2025, ”Audrey Azoulay- UNESCO Director-General, during her presence in Brest.
From the national level to the classroom
To achieve this ambitious goal, UNESCO unveiled a common repository of educational content for policymakers and curriculum developers. It gives them all the keys needed to integrating ocean education at every level of the educational chain: from the drafting of national curricula to the preparation of lessons by teachers.
”Thanks to this toolkit, all States are on an equal footing, rapidly able to place the ocean at the heart of education and increase students’ knowledge in this area so that they become responsible and committed citizens, ”Stefania Giannini- UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General in charge of education.
Valuing good practices
The new educational tools provided by UNESCO, with the support of AXA and numerous other partners and experts, reflect the conviction that we need to change the way society interacts with the ocean to achieve a more sustainable model.
In its reference tool, UNESCO highlights the good practices of Member States already working on ocean education, such as Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Kenya, Portugal, and Sweden. In the form of case studies, the Organization presents the main results achieved by these countries, as well as the opportunities and challenges, met when seeking to include ocean knowledge in a structured way in the curriculum.
Including traditional knowledge
For UNESCO, ocean education should not only involve the transmission of scientific knowledge and awareness of contemporary issues; it should also promote traditional skills and knowledge, such as those protected by the 2003 Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage, which promotes ancestral fishing techniques, for example. UNESCO’s new toolkit leaves it to Member States and regions to adapt the “theory of change” to their specific practices, situations, and needs.
UNESCO will monitor the implementation of this objective by its 193 Member States. A first progress report is planned for COP27, which will be held in November 2022 in Egypt.
UNESCO and the ocean
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization is the UN agency in charge of the ocean. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), founded in 1960 and joined by 150 countries, coordinates global programs such as ocean mapping, ocean health monitoring, and tsunami risk prevention, as well as numerous scientific research projects. The agency is also the custodian of unique ocean places, through 232 marine biosphere reserves and 50 marine World Heritage sites of outstanding universal value.
UNESCO is leading the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021 to 2030), which this year will see the organization of several major international summits that will help to amplify mobilization in this field.