Increasing public awareness of the issues affecting oceans, coasts, and islands is vital to advancing the global oceans agenda. The oceans sustain livelihoods of all inhabitants of the Earth and it is only natural that all citizens—not just the decision-makers—should be involved in stewardship and governance of the oceans. The role of the general public is two-fold: To participate actively in policymaking, and to adapt their everyday behavior towards a sustainable way of life. Without strong public awareness of the human connection with the marine environment, no policy will succeed.
Since 2002, the Global Ocean Forum has collaborated closely with Nausicaá (Centre National de la Mer, France) and the World Ocean Network (the network of museums, aquaria, and ocean learning centers around the work), and through these organizations, the Global Ocean Forum has prepared and disseminated a package of public information materials highlighting global oceans issues and demonstrating how individual citizens can make a difference in achieving sustainable development of oceans.
The role that aquaria, science centres, natural science museums, and zoos can play makes them an important asset. Visited by more than 200 million people every year, our institutions are situated at a crossroads where several worlds converge: The world of politics, scientists, and professionals, the world of mass media, and general public institutions. We are ideally placed to explain the complexities of maritime issues, inform the public about sustainable policies, make new laws more easily accepted, involve people in their implementation, and find out what the general public really thinks and needs.
-Philippe Vallette, General Manager, Nausicaá (Centre National de la Mer, France) and Co-Chair, World Ocean Network, June 24, 2007, New York
For more information on the Global Ocean Forum’s work on Public Education and Outreach, please click here.