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World Ocean Day 2022: What is it and what is this year’s theme?

This year’s events cast a spotlight on ’the communities, ideas, and solutions that are working together to protect and revitalise the ocean and everything it sustains‘

Sabrina Barr,Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 08 June 2022 12:38 BST

More than 70 per cent of Earth’s surface is covered by sea water. And yet, everyday industrial activities being conducted by human beings continue to put the state of our oceans at risk.

The problem could also be worse than previously thought.

Research published by Plymouth Marine Laboratory has warned that microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans may be more than double earlier estimates.

Meanwhile, an international study has concluded that, even if dramatic reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions were to happen today, the deep ocean would still be warming rapidly by 2050.

World Oceans Day is therefore observed on 8 June every year in an effort to celebrate our seas while raising awareness of the need to protect them at all costs.

Here is everything you need to know about the annual commemoration.

What is it?

The aim of World Oceans Day is to emphasise the key role the ocean plays in our everyday lives, in addition to “inspiring action to protect the ocean and sustainably use marine resources”.

Although the observance was only officially recognised by the United Nations in 2008, it has been celebrated since 1992, having first been proposed by Canada’s International Centre for Ocean Development and the Ocean Institute of Canada at the Earth Summit, a UN conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

On the UN’s website, the organisation explains the importance of understanding how the state of the ocean ties in with our own wellbeing, reminding us that “the health of the ocean is intimately tied to our health”.

“[The oceans] are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe,” it states.

“The purpose of the day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilise and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.”

The UN adds that the oceans are “a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere.”

What is this year’s theme?

World Oceans Day 2022 has been given the theme: “Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean”.

The UN says its intention for this year is to cast a spotlight on “the communities, ideas, and solutions that are working together to protect and revitalise the ocean and everything it sustains”.

Past themes for World Oceans Day have included “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods”, “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean” and “Gender and the Ocean”.

The latest instalment marks the first hybrid gathering, with an in-person conference held at the UN’s headquarters in New York City alongside online events people can participate in across the globe.

You can stream live coverage from the UN when you RSVP online and check out a complete calendar of events around the world on the organisation’s website.

In Britain, more than 100 school children are taking part in “Protecting Our Planet”, a kids conference being staged by the Environment Agency’s plastics and sustainability team.

“We want to inspire the next generation of young people to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects to help solve some of the biggest issues facing our planet,” the body said.

“We hope the conference will encourage students to start having these conversations.”

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