The United Nations celebrates World Oceans Day every year on June 8th. Many countries have celebrated this day since 1992, following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On this day, we raise global awareness of the benefits humankind derives from the ocean and our individual and collective duty to use its resources sustainably. Delegations, civil society, science and research centers, NGOs, and affected communities all come together to mobilize local and global events around the world.

Peace Boat US Interns at the world oceans day, Phebe, Caisey and Molly (Left -Right)

Peace Boat US organized several events during the week of World Oceans Day, which reflected the need for inclusivity and equity. The event also integrated approaches to the new agreement on biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Guidelines on Small-scale Fisheries, other ocean governance frameworks and international human rights instruments. 

Lalela Ulwandle (Listen to the Sea)

The first event, Empatheatre presented an award-winning interactive theater performance from South Africa highlighting the pressing need to respectfully engage with Indigenous and local knowledge in ocean research and equitable ocean governance. The methodology behind Lelala Ulwandle provides insight into transdisciplinary ocean science and the protection of human rights in the context of the blue economy. This performance, and the ideas of intangible heritage, were referenced in three separate court cases in South Africa which resulted in halting seismic surveys in South African waters. This is the first time art and theater was used as evidence to embody intangible heritage in South African courts, leading to a new legal precedent recognizing the sacred relationship of the ocean as a realm for Indigenous Peoples’ ancestors. 

The performance was followed by a facilitate public-discussion with researchers, performers, decision-makers and the audience, facilitated by Peace Boat US Representatives Molly Rosaaen and Sara Van Eerde. 

Indlela Yokuphila: The Soul’s Journey

The event was the international premiere of the animation “Indlela Yokuphila: The Soul’s Journey.” The film is a transdisciplinary ocean research project that brought together a range of artists, traditional healers, marine sociologists, and deep sea marine ecologists to collaborate on a more holistic alternative to ocean mapping and decision making. According to the ancestral beliefs of the isiZulu people, the deep sea is a resting place of the ancestors, where, after death, the soul travels to, through streams, rivers, estuaries, and eventually the sea. 

The discussion that took place after the screening described the making of the film from Empatheatre Director, Dr. Dylan McGarry and was moderated by Peace Boat US Representatives Molly Rosaaen and Sara Van Eerde. 

Arts-Based Research and Solidarity Practices with Indigenous Knowledge Holders in Plural Ocean Governance – Learnings from South Africa

The beginning of the event was designed to show the audience what it is like to participate in ocean-decision making consultation where they are not familiar with the presentation or language that is being used. The Empatheatre spoke Zulu to present their message. Finding new ways to present ideas in spaces, such as the United Nations, was the topic of this workshop. This workshop included a short documentary screening, “The Making of Umkhosi Wenala: the Festival of Adenbance,” a new theater-based research project co-developed with 13 young artists (Mbazwana Creative Arts) in the Northern KwaZulu-Natal region in South Africa.

Peace Boat US and Youth for the SDGs Scholar, Sara Van Eerde, spoke about arts-based research, strategies, and methods, along with a poem she wrote which included all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The audience was then split into small groups and discussed what strategies and methods they have used to co-define concerns around ocean governance. This showed how collaborative arts-based methods and approaches can help progress the work of international development projects to support the protection of indigenous knowledge holders’ human rights and advocate for their inclusion in decision-making processes. 

World Oceans Day at the United Nations

On Thursday June 8th, Peace Boat US participated in the annual celebration of World Oceans Day at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. This year’s theme was Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing. During this international event, Peace Boat US held a video exhibition and presented sustainable fashion mannequins while interacting with event participants. Raising awareness about World’s Oceans Day ensures public awareness about the importance of the major roles oceans have in our everyday life. 

Coney Island Beach Clean-Up

On Saturday, June 10th, Peace Boat US partnered with Blue Planet Alliance, Oceanic Global, and the New York Aquarium to host a beach clean-up on Coney Island. With over 50 people joining the clean-up,Peace Boat US was able to engage with the broader NYC-based community and organizations. Keeping beaches clean is part of the greater commitment to our oceans and preserving nature.