28.02.2019 - UNESCO Venice Office

36 countries join in Ocean Literacy for All A toolkit’s testing phase

The ocean is in trouble, it needs our help. It is our shared responsibility to preserve it for the current and future generations. Committed to ocean awareness raising globally, testing is ongoing for the “Ocean Literacy for All. A toolkit”. The two-volume manual produced by UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission builds on the “Ocean Literacy for All” initiative, a voluntary commitment to the 2017 UN Ocean Conference to bring about a shift in our perception of the ocean.

The ocean is a source of food, energy, minerals, and increasingly of medications; it regulates the Earth’s climate, it hosts the greatest diversity of life and ecosystems and it is a provider of economic, social and aesthetic services to humankind. Knowing and understanding the ocean’s influence on us as well as our influence on the ocean is crucial to living and acting sustainably. This is the very essence of ocean literacy.

When the international community gathered in June 2017 in New York, priority areas of action were discussed, joint activities set in motion and partnerships developed to preserve the ocean. Specifically, a global partnership was formed, under the leadership of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, to raise awareness about the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources, and to build a public knowledge base regarding the global ocean.

The “Ocean Literacy for All - A toolkit” is the result of joint work and contributions of members of this global partnership. Primarily, it provides educators and learners worldwide with innovative tools, methods and resources to understand the complex ocean processes and functions, alerting of the most urgent ocean issues.

The toolkit provides ready-to-use activities to be implemented, in formal and non-formal educational contexts. It unfolds the essential ocean literacy principles and the information needed to understand the cause-effect relationship between individual and collective behaviours and the impacts that threaten ocean health. It further aims at inspiring citizens, scientists, educators and learners to take greater personal responsibility for the ocean, as well as to work through partnerships and networks, sharing ideas and experiences and developing new approaches and initiatives in support of ocean literacy.

The toolkit presents the history of ocean literacy, its framework made of 7 essential principles. It connects them to international ocean science programmes that contribute to enhancing ocean knowledge and observations. Interviews to marine scientists and educators on their professional experiences on ocean literacy; their views on its future are shared as examples of good practice and success stories all around the world.

Existing challenges to marine education are explored in the manual, together with new paths for the development of successful ocean literacy activities. One of the most important factors identified is related to the creation of multi-sectorial partnerships among different sectors (education, governmental and private) that have jointly built ocean literacy programmes for all formal educational levels from primary school to university, as well as for non-formal learners.

At the end of the toolkit,14 classroom activities give support and examples of marine science education that could be adapted to different geographical and cultural contexts. The resources, which are designed to be relevant for learners of all ages worldwide, find application in many settings, while their concrete implementation will have to be adapted to the national or local context.

The call to the schools part of the UNESCO Associated School Project Network (ASPNet) launched in September 2018 allowed for expressions of interest in being part of testing the activities included in the Ocean Literacy for All – A toolkit. 36 countries responded to the call.

The pilot project started in October 2018 and it will run until May 2019. To date, 3 webinars on the Ocean Literacy programme have been organised with the collaboration of UNESCO’s Education Sector, from October through December 2018 in English, Spanish and French, with an audience of teachers from all the countries taking part in the pilot test. The teachers were selected from a science/language background, from upper primary education and lower/upper secondary education levels, to guarantee a range of students between the age of 10 and 19.

The online multi-language questionnaire collects feedback from the teachers. The survey requires detailed answers on the structure of the 14 activities, on the difficulties the teachers have encountered in each lesson and suggestions to improve the subjects’ delivery. Particular attention is given to feedback from students that could be key to highlight the most useful activities and challenges that lie ahead, and how to address this in an effective way.

Link : Ocean literacy for all: a toolkit  IOC. Manuals and guides; 80 Publ: 2017; 136 p.

Webinars in English and Spanish:




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