Scaling up Ocean Action: Peace Boat at the UN Ocean Conference

Jul 12, 2022

A Peace Boat delegation participated in the United Nations Ocean Conference under the overarching theme "Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions". The conference, co-hosted by Portugal and Kenya, built on the success of the first UN Ocean Conference which took place in New York in 2017 and comes at a critical time for ocean health.  In the opening plenary, UN Secretary General, António Guterres said “Sadly, we have taken the ocean for granted and today we face what I would call an ocean emergency. We must turn the tide.”  

Peace Boat held the first side event on the opening day of the Ocean Conference, "Scaling up Ocean Action with Empowerment of SIDS Youth, Awareness Raising and Citizenship Engagement", in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Kiribati to the United Nations.  The event opened with a keynote from H.E. Mr. Teburoro Tito, Permanent Representative of Kiribati to the UN.  He introduced Kabweea Ititaake who gave a performance of an ocean-based traditional dance mimicking the graceful and majestic movement of the frigate bird as it soars into the morning sky as it sets out on a fishing journey over the huge Kiribati ocean. Ambassador Tito led the audience in singing a song about the ocean and peace, “World peace in harmony with Nature”. In his opening remarks he spoke about examples of how Kiribati is working for ocean health including the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) and about how the people of Kiribati people are reviving their rich traditional knowledge about ocean and nature.

The event showcased Peace Boat’s Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Programme which was a Voluntary Commitment at the first Ocean Conference and featured panel discussions on engaging youth from large ocean states, citizenship engagement and ocean literacy in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Peace Boat Founder and Director, Yoshioka Tatsuya spoke about the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Programme. Since the launch of the programme, youth leaders from states on the front line of climate change and marine degradation have regularly traveled onboard Peace Boat’s ship to engage in capacity building and awareness raising through public engagement, meeting with government and civil society representatives. 

During the panel on Engaging Youth from Large Ocean States, Ms Khadija Stewart from Trinidad and Tobago who joined Peace Boat’s Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador and is the Caribbean Representative of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance said it is priority for young people to be well informed, to obtain the knowledge and at the same time to to the policy makers and question.  Mr Steven Victor, Minister of the Environment of Palau spoke about engaging youth in the Our Ocean conference which took place in Koror in February this year.  Mr Henk Rogers talked about Blue Planet Alliance’s Global Ambassador Programme. Citizenship engagement and awareness raising was the focus of the panel with Ms Lisa A. Marrocchino (Proteus Ocean Group), Ms Lea d’Auriol (Oceanic Global) who emphasised the importance of engaging multiple stakeholders including working with the local community in each location that PROTEUS will be installed and working with the Educational Ministers and the schools and to integrate Ocean Literacy into the curricula.  The theme of ocean literacy continued into the third and final panel with Kenley Kenneth, 7th Our Ocean Conference Youth Coordinator who gave examples from Palau. Ms Vanessa Batista spoke about the role of Blue Schools and learning outside the classroom, examples from the experience of Ciência Viva and the participation in the European Ocean Literacy Coalition (EU4Ocean).  Dr Bernadette Snow, of One Ocean Hub who emphasised the importance of involving more young scientists in international research projects and in policy making. 

Peace Boat was delighted to have a session in the SDG Media Zone with Peace Boat Founder, Yoshioka Tatsuya who spoke about the Peace Boat Ecoship and Khadija Stewart who joined Peace Boat as an Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador and continues to work with Peace Boat on ocean and climate youth engagement.  She is now the Caribbean representative for the Sustainable Ocean Alliance. Henk Rogers shared how Blue Planet Alliance work to get islands and countries around the world to legislatively mandate a commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2045.  The SDG Media Zone is available to watch online.

Peace Boat co-hosted a Welcome Reception on the first evening of the conference with representatives from governments, the UN and civil society.  Distinguished guests and speakers included famed advocate for the ocean, Dr. Sylvia Earle and Mr Fabien Cousteau.  Dr Earle told those “People are coming together now. We can turn from decline to recovery. To reach a turning point, not a tipping point.”  The “Sounds of the Ocean Concert & Reception,” took place on the evening of July 1, organized in collaboration with the Lisbon Planetarium and featured an immersive journey under the sea with the sounds of whales and dolphins accompanied by underwater visuals and an original, meditative musical score. 


The main outcome of the UN Ocean Conference 2022: the Political Declaration “Our ocean, our future, our responsibility” was adopted at the end of the conference and will reviewed for endorsement at the UN General Assembly’s forthcoming seventy-sixth session.  Negotiations between nations on the key instrument to protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030 – the global ocean treaty – are expected to take place in New York in August.