Peace Boat is excited to be taking an active role in organizing events around this year’s United Nations World Oceans Day. Since its inception in 2008, UN World Oceans Day (8 June) celebrates the ocean and its importance to the planet and our lives, while raising awareness about the many threats it faces. As the challenges to the ocean continue to grow, so does the need for novel solutions and the people driving them. 

The theme of UN World Oceans Day 2020 is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.” Innovation – relating to the introduction of new methods, ideas, or products – is a dynamic term, and one that is fundamentally filled with hope. This year, the UN World Oceans Day celebration will take place as a virtual event produced in partnership with Oceanic Global. 

The event will shed light on innovations from around the globe in areas of need that are both promising and proven, ones that instill optimism, and ones that have demonstrated the ability to scale effectively. It will also provide a platform to thought leaders of varied backgrounds, who are paving new paths forward for the health of our ocean and our planet as a whole. 

As we continue to raise awareness about innovative solutions for a sustainable ocean, Peace Boat is ready to take its commitment to the next level: create a ship that will embody our message, become a low-carbon cruising model for the industry and be the flagship for climate action around the world.

Ecoship will address climate action via the responsibilities of maritime transport in carbon reduction and in preventing oceans and coastal areas degradation. By integrating a set of innovative technological and managerial solutions, Ecoship will be a showcase for what the industry can do.

As a committed campaigner for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Ecoship will be instrumental in creating awareness and trigger action. Its annual world cruises will create the framework for hundreds of educational programs, advocacy campaigns and applied research, as well as for the hosting of international conferences and world-class exhibitions on green technologies, innovation and climate action.

Join us this summer from June 1 – June 14, for a series of  events organized by United Nations partners and organizations working towards sustainable oceans. Peace Boat youth representatives from the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador program along with the Peace Boat US Youth for the SDGs Scholars will share their innovative solutions for the oceans as part of our 2020 Ocean Youth Leaders online series. 

Introduction to our 2020 Ocean Youth Leaders Spotlight Series

Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors

This program brings youth leaders from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on the front line of climate change and marine degradation to travel onboard the Peace Boat, engaging in capacity building and bringing their message to citizens and government representatives through the voyage. The program was launched at the Ocean Conference at the United Nations in 2017 and has been held annually since, with the participation of young leaders from countries in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as the Caribbean.

Youth 4 the SDGs Scholarship Program

Working towards the United Nations’ Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework for the oceans, Peace Boat commits to further educational programs and mobilization for marine science to support this important initiative among youth and civil society. The Youth for the SDGs scholarship program brings together young people working on sustainability in their home communities to share their solutions and best practices in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the local level from a youth perspective.

The Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors and Youth 4 SDGs Scholarship Recipients who will share their stories:

Justaquiu “Jake” Fabiano Lasi

Timor-Leste: the studies predict that the climate in Timor-Leste will become about 15°C warmer and about 10% wetter on average by 2050. In the future, the intensity of the cyclones and extreme rainfall events will increase.

Jake is passionate about environmental protection both in theory and practice. Jake is in his final year of a Bachelor of Earth Science at the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL). His participation in the programme was supported by the UNDP in Timor Leste in his role as Ambassador for SDG 13 and 14. As the President and Founder of the Joventude ba Dezenvolvimentu Nasional (JDN, Youth for National Development) organisation from 2012 onwards, Jake led a team of dedicated young people to create leadership opportunities for other youth across Timor-Leste. He has also participated at several international meetings, including the 2014 Waste Management Study Tour in Japan and the International Conference for Climate Change in 2017. Jake has worked across a range of sectors including health with the UN Mission and USN Mercy. The ocean is Jake’s church, school and passion. Since 2017, Jake has dedicated himself to ecotourism, working as a consultant to teach swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling.

Nathalia Lawen, Seychelles

In Seychelles, as much as 90% of corals in shallow waters are now bleached significantly, with signs of mortality.

Nathalia is currently studying at the School of Advanced Level Studies. She was part of the first cohort of the Blue Economy Internship Programme where she assisted with scientific research on Silhouette island with the Island Conservation Society. In 2016, together with her twin sister, she co-founded an environmental group in her home district to raise awareness about environmental issues. Nathalia is an active member of SYAH Seychelles and The Ocean Project Seychelles and has led numerous initiatives on behalf of these NGOs including multiple beach clean ups. She is a strong advocate for the oceans and has lobbied the government for numerous causes, most recently, on the issue of marine debris. As part of The Ocean Project Seychelles, she is working on initiatives for public education about the impacts of marine debris, in particular plastic pollution, and a switch from single- use plastic items. In 2017, she was awarded “The most valuable student” as part of the Eco-school programme and got a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the world heritage site – The Aldabra Atoll.

Mareeka Dookie, Sint Maarten/Saint Martin

The coral reefs in Saint Martin are fragmented due to a temperature rise in 2005 to 30°C. Twenty years ago, the seagrass beds were much larger. Without the seagrass bed, sand can easily be moved by a hurricane resulting in the loss of beaches or sand can accumulate in one area, impacting local marine life.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago and raised in Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, Mareeka Dookie is a youth activist devoted to tackling climate change in the Caribbean. In 2019 she traveled onboard the Peace Boat as a “Youth for the SDGs” scholar, sponsored by the SXM Festival in Saint Martin. After the devastation of hurricane Irma in September 2017, Mareeka has been engaged in disaster risk reduction, education, and resilience among communities through sustainable development. She created an education awareness campaign through an Eco- Friendly Carnival Troupe called Pretty Trashy along with passionate environmental activists on Sint Maarten. As a board member of Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), an independent non-profit with the mission of protecting the Caribbean environment through research, restoration, education and advocacy, Mareeka strives for achieving the 2030 Agenda; for sustainable, inclusive, and resilient societies.

Zana Kristen Wade, Belize

Belize is the most vulnerable country in Central America to sea level rise. By the end of century, most of Belize City will likely be submerged.

Zana’s passion lies primarily in communications with emphasis on the SDGs. Graduating from the University of Belize, her background is in Natural Resource Management. In 2016 she was the first to represent her country at the World Merit’s Merit360 program. She and 22 other change makers from around the world created The Climate Express, an initiative to help vulnerable communities across the world fight the growing pressures of climate change, which was presented to the United Nations in New York in September 2016. Zana now works as a communications consultant under the biodiversity finance initiative BIOFIN which is managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the European Union and the governments of Germany and Switzerland. She has her own business Meraki MAD Agency, and seeks to contribute towards the growth of community for job satisfaction and sustainable development.

Khadija Stewart, Trinidad & Tobago

Sea level rise is causing varying degrees of coastal erosion on Trinidad & Tobago. Fisheries resources are described as either heavily exploited or over exploited.

Khadija is an enthusiastic environmentalist with a passion for travelling, making her mark on the world by moulding her life around three important words; awareness, appreciation and change. Currently, she is pursuing an MSc in Climate Change and Development. Upon completion of her first MSc in Sustainable Development, she developed a passion for land and water management which steered her towards the World Youth Parliament for Water. As a member of the World Youth Parliament, she has attended the World Water Forum in 2018 and connected with youth advocates across the globe working towards ensuring water for all and youth involvement in the water sector. She is now the Communications Lead of the Parliament. Khadija’s love for the environment coupled with her desire to raise awareness led to the creation of Ecovybz which started as an environmental blog and has now grown into an environmental awareness movement with a series of educational and outreach activities aimed at bringing about meaningful change.

Shafira “Sasha” Charlette, Seychelles

Small island nations are among the most vulnerable to rising sea levels. Conservationists say dying coral reefs, extreme weather and land erosion threaten the very existence of the Seychelles archipelago.

Shafira is an environmental activist with a big passion for the environment, oceans and animal welfare. She enjoys volunteerism and is a member of numerous non-governmental organizations in her country, encouraging young people to engage in environmental and youth activities. She is the Treasurer of SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH-Seychelles), the Seychelles Chapter of a regional network of young people on SIDS promoting and advancing youth-led sustainable development projects. She has successfully campaigned and lobbied for the “Seychelles Free from Plastic Bag Campaign” and taken part in “Academy by the Sea” Programme project of Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS). Shafira currently works as an Accounts Supervisor and is studying for her accounting degree on a self-study basis. She has her own Graphics Design and Photography start-up business, Simple Creativity and uses her skills to make brochures, posters, flyers for climate and ocean advocacy.

Milka Rodriguez, Dominican Republic

In 2017, the Dominican Republic was ranked the 11th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. Floods are the most frequent climate-related hazard in the Dominican Republic, with the northeastern region vulnerable to floods and mudslides from severe storms.

Milka Rodriguez is a Dominican American of Afro- Caribbean heritage who was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York. She is passionate about environmental sustainability and community economic development, and how they affect vulnerable communities. She has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from Syracuse University, and a Master of Science in Sustainability in the Urban Environment from CUNY The City College of New York. In 2017, she received a Youth for the SDGs scholarship from Peace Boat US to travel to Panama, Nicaragua, and El Salvador to learn about the UN sustainable development goals and peace education in Latin America. Since then, she has conducted a study funded by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development in the Dominican Republic on watershed management and governance. Milka was selected as a youth representative to the United Nations Department of Global Communications and has served as a co-chair for the workshops subcommittee for the 68th UN Civil Society Conference. Currently, she works as a Policy Advisor at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability leading a building energy efficiency program that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, and supports the Paris Climate Agreement.

La Tisha Parkinson, Trinidad & Tobago

With the progression of climate change Trinidad & Tobago would face increased occurrences of tropical storms, coastal flooding, a rise in sea levels and increased risk of droughts.

La Tisha is a recent graduate with a major in biology and minor in environmental natural resource management from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. The Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter lit the fire of advocacy in her heart three years ago and it has been burning ever since. As a member of the World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council, she took part in the United Nations Ocean Conference as well as the Sea Youth Rise Up Mixer, and the Ocean Festival in New York earlier this year. She has been writing poetry for over a decade, both nonfiction and fiction prose, and contributes to various blogs on ocean health. La Tisha’s volunteer activities allow her to combine her passions for the oceans, research, writing, and communicating with the public.

Against the Tide, a Journey for Climate Hope

In 2017, a group of young leaders from states on the front line of climate change and marine degradation joined Peace Boat’s 95th Global Voyage in Barcelona as a part of a new programme to highlight these crucial issues. These young women and men, between 19 and 26 years of age, were from the regions of the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. Over the following three weeks, they visited Lisbon, Bordeaux, London, Edinburgh, Reykjavik and New York. In every port, they connected with civil society organizations and government agencies bringing their message to citizens and government representatives throughout the voyage. The film portrays their experience and raises awareness about the fragility and vulnerability of the small island states.

Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors Short Film

This short documentary was filmed during the second edition of the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Programme during the summer of 2018. In 2017, Peace Boat began this programme to take the voices and experiences of young people from small islands around the world to raise awareness of what is happening in these countries affected by climate and ocean change.

The programme is part of Peace Boat’s long-term commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Peace Boat is committed to building Ecoship, the world’s most sustainable cruise ship as a flagship for the SDGs and climate action. The programme is an example of how Peace Boat’s voyages are used to raise awareness for action for the ocean. Ecoship will be the future platform for this educational programme and many more.

Visit UN World Oceans Day to find out how you can get involved and participate in events throughout World Ocean Week. Follow @unworldoceansday on Instagram and use #unworldoceansday on social media.