We were delighted to be accredited to attend the UN Ocean Conference 2022! Our Head of Ocean Advocacy and Engagement, Nicola Bridge, went along to Lisbon, Portugal to take part in many important conversations to #SaveOurOcean. Hear what she has to say below…

6,000 people attended the UN Conference in Portugal, and I was delighted to be one of them.

It was great to hear all the world leaders talking about engaging the public with the Ocean, something that we at the Ocean Conservation Trust are very passionate about. We know that engaging people with the Ocean takes time and needs to focus on people’s values, rather than their knowledge. Hearing the world leaders emphasise the importance of engaging the public has made us even more determined to find new and innovative ways to engage EVERYONE with the Ocean.

The dialogue was all about taking action which was really exciting, and is vital for a healthy future for our Ocean. However, I heard less about the actions that are already being taken, but perhaps this was simply because I was at the wrong events. There are already lots of great organisations taking action to #saveourocean, and hearing plans for future action made me feel proud of the great work the Ocean Conservation Trust is already doing, every day. From national campaigns inspiring everyone to #thinkocean in their everyday lives and encouraging local governments to include the Ocean in their policies, to running educational sessions and workshops. We have a passionate team of Ocean optimists who are determined to achieve our vision of a healthy Ocean!

I took part in many interesting conversations centred around the importance of Blue Habitat Restoration. As an organisation, the OCT has been focused on habitat restoration for over a decade, so it was exciting to be able to share with others our biggest and most ambitious seagrass project yet, Blue Meadows! We will protect the seagrass meadows we already have and in the longer term, restore what has been lost.

As well as representing the Ocean Conservation Trust, I was also there as EMSEA (European Marine Science Educators Association) President, and it was my great privilege to sign the new Charter for Blue Education in Europe. This Charter brings together networks across Europe working towards the same goals, to have a society of Ocean Literate citizens who recognise the importance of the Ocean.

One of my favourite aspects of the Conference was ‘It’s All About People’ which highlighted the need to bring all forms of science together to solve the problems that are facing us all. The UN Ocean Decade is all about societal outcomes, and this is a great focus for the decade, as there are no Ocean problems, just people problems, and we need to work with ALL people.

Government and policy moves at a very slow pace, therefore grass-roots NGO’s, local people and communities are fundamental to #saveourocean. Coming away from this year’s Ocean Conference, we feel inspired to get Ocean Literacy into the official programme for the next UN Ocean Conference in 2025.