World Oceans Day 2021 - The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods

World Oceans Day is celebrated annually on the 8th of June as the United Nations Day of commemorating the oceans with inclusion of activities that address milestones in having a sustainable global ocean. Oceans cover an extensive portion of the earth surface and are an epicenter of the very basis of life. On this specific day world over, events that aim at supporting ocean protection are organized and these range from local community activities, webinars, beach clean-ups to essay competitions to highlight just a few.  With each new year, several themes to mark the day are identified and of focus in 2021 was the Ocean: Life and Livelihoods. In Kenya, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, and the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, partnered in organizing an informative online event.

The webinar was opened by the Principal Secretary of the State Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Blue Economy, Dr. Francis Owino, prior to which there were a number of opening remarks from high-level delegates and experts. An array of topics were covered during the event and these were discussions centred on sensitizing stakeholders on the threats to ocean health, opportunities, research, conservation, management and monitoring interventions and sustainable nature-based livelihood initiatives. Over 150 stakeholders attended the virtual sessions of the day, and these were drawn from government agencies, academia, civil society, community associations, early career ocean professionals and international organizations who made the session interactive through their invaluable input to the discussions centred on the day’s theme.

Very insightful questions ensued with each presentation given to inform advancement of sustainable ocean management in Kenya. Key highlights from the event were ways to foster the ambitions for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science in Kenya, reflections from the Global Ocean Science report with priority on marine spatial planning advancement in Kenya, the existing careers in the field of ocean sciences to pique the interest of early career ocean professionals (ECOPs), ecosystem management, sustainable ocean health through marine litter initiatives, in addition to policy and legal frameworks for capacity development in ocean sciences. At the culmination of the event, very much in line with the theme of the day, were features on a number of development initiatives within the country, related to oceans and livelihoods.