Protecting our ocean’s health, beauty and wealth


Oceans have a major role in our everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe. Oceans are a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere. Healthy oceans are a prerequisite for our own health and for that of our planet. The new EU Biodiversity Strategy therefore puts a strong emphasis on the protection of the ocean. On World Oceans Day we mark the importance of the ocean and celebrate together both its wealth and its beauty.

Despite their importance, oceans are facing unprecedented threats as a result of human activity. Oceans still face challenges linked to overexploitation, pollution, global warming, and biodiversity loss.

The most effective ways to address the biodiversity and climate emergencies at once, is by taking nature-based solutions. That includes marine protected areas and other effective conservation measures for oceans.

The new EU Biodiversity Strategy puts a strong emphasis on the protection and conservation of marine biodiversity and sensitive marine ecosystems and species, both in Europe and in the world, including in high-seas and in the Antarctic/Southern Ocean.

The World Oceans Day theme for this year is "Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean" – This is especially relevant in the lead-up to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which will run from 2021 to 2030. The Decade will strengthen international cooperation to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society.

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Ocean literacy is ‘the understanding of human influence on the ocean and the ocean’s influence on people’. A Virtual Ocean Literacy Summit marks World Oceans Day this year, bringing together the EU, IOC-UNESCO and other international partners to discuss the role of ocean literacy in transforming knowledge into action, in the context of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The EU4Ocean coalition initiative announced during the Summit will amplify ongoing ocean literacy efforts by connecting organisations, projects and people. It is EU’s contribution to ocean literacy and a call for action to all citizens to engage for more sustainable oceans.

The EU will continue using every opportunity to raise issues related to international oceans governance with its partners and to improve the international governance framework.


A Brief History of World Oceans Day