“One Ocean, One Voice”: Reflections on EurOCEAN 2023
Much like the timeless compositions of Mozart and Beethoven, the ocean’s influence has been shaping life on our planet since the beginning of time. Like music, the ocean has the ability to awaken our senses, evoke emotions, and inspire transformative change. The ocean is a fundamental part of every human being’s life, regardless of our proximity to it. In fact, in this global composition that is the ocean, humans play an integral role, and our impact on the ocean has long-lasting effects.
However, in recent times, the ocean’s symphony is facing critical pressures: climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, among others. As a result of this growing climate emergency, we find ourselves on the verge of an unprecedented ocean crisis that could potentially change the sound and rhythm of our seas forever. Yet, even in these challenging times, there are still moments of hope where people come together with a shared commitment to tackle these issues. The EurOCEAN 2023 conference, a major European marine science-policy conference organized every 4-5 years, exemplifies this spirit, providing a platform for international and transdisciplinary collaboration in safeguarding our oceans.
The EurOCEAN 2023 conference was held last week in Vigo on 10-11 October, and it marked a significant milestone in the journey towards ocean conservation. Organised by the European Marine Board, this event brought together the European scientific community, marine policy makers, maritime industry representatives, science communicators and other stakeholders who discussed the future of marine science, ocean restoration, and the sector’s future.
This year’s conference centred around the theme “One Ocean, One Voice“, highlighting the need for all stakeholders to join forces and work together to achieve the ambitious objectives set for 2030, aiming to restore our oceans and waters. The event’s core message was clear: ocean protection is complex but essential, and we need comprehensive systemic solutions to deal with this complexity to protect the ocean effectively. This requires the collaboration of all the different stakeholders and connecting diverse disciplines and fields to establish a united and collective voice.
The conference highlighted the synergies between the EU Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030, other EU research and innovation and management initiatives, and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
SUBMON took advantage of the opportunity to be an active participant in this collective effort towards ocean conservation. We attended the conference and collaborated with the rest of the stakeholders to emphasize the importance of ocean literacy in inspiring action and ensuring people’s empathy and engagement towards the ocean to achieve our objectives. The consensus was unanimous: each of us is a crucial instrument needed to preserve the ocean’s melody.
The EurOCEAN 2023 conference concluded with the signing of the Vigo Declaration where participants urged Europe to sustainably manage the ocean, guided by science and based on inclusion and equity, leaving no one behind. The declaration calls for integrated land-sea policies and management, sustained and better-coordinated ocean observation and increased citizen engagement.
EurOCEAN 2023 was a time to learn, connect, and get inspired. Like a well-orchestrated symphony, stakeholders from every corner came together, each contributing to the melody of ocean conservation. All in all, EurOCEAN was the perfect chance to meet and interact with people and organizations aligned with our work at SUBMON and look for future collaborations for ocean conservation.