What is Ocean Literacy?
Most citizens are not aware of the full extent of the medical, economic, social, political and environmental importance of the sea. Many of us are not aware of how our day-to-day actions can have a cumulative effect on the health of the ocean – a necessary resource that must be protected for all life on the planet Earth to exist.
In other words, many citizens lack a sense of “Ocean Literacy” - an understanding of the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean.
An Ocean-Literate person:
• Understands the importance of the ocean to humankind
• Can communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way
• Is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources
Thanks to SeaChange for the definition:
Our 4-level approach to Ocean Literacy
1. Science Communication: Present relevant science with a focus on active dialogue between participating scientists and members of coastal communities rather than top-down knowledge transfer. We take the view that the situation around COVID-19, which likely will not allow for large groups to congregate this summer, is an opportunity to foster a more personal connection between local citizens and scientists, bringing them together on a level playing field, in an intimate setting, enabling person-to-person conversations with potentially transformative power for both sides.
2. Art and Emotion: We collaborate with artists to provide an additional, more emotive access to the topic, making our events interesting to an audience beyond the usual bracket of the academic white middle class. We believe that art can aid science communication by providing both an active and immersive “discovering nature” experience as well as enhanced emotional connectivity to the natural world. While there still is a need to better understand the role of emotions in decision making and behaviour, a large-scale emotional re-connection with the natural world is an obvious necessity if we want to successfully work for transformative behaviour change on a societal level.
3. Activism: We collaborate with local organisations to provide people with the possibility of local engagement. As stated above, we believe knowledge should not be separated from activism and we therefore want our events to double as volunteer recruitment for locally active community groups. This direct pathway from an informative setting to active engagement will help consolidate the acquired theoretical knowledge and build a sustained connection to the natural environment.
4. Heritage and Storytelling: We will collect stories from local people to explore and understand their connection to the sea, their concerns, hopes and visions, acknowledging that we need to understand how our audiences connect with a particular topic, place or issue in order to deliver science communication which can illicit behaviour change8. This active listening approach is key to achieving the UN Decade’s goal of “identifying and overcoming barriers to behaviour change required for a step change in humanity’s relationship with the ocean”.