Photo: United Nations Under Secretary-General Miguel de Serpa Soares with Peace Boat Director Yoshioka Tatsuya

June 8 was designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day” to raise global awareness of the benefits derived from the oceans and the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans, and to emphasize our individual and collective duty to interact with oceans in a sustainable manner so as to meet current needs without compromising those of future generations. This year’s theme “Gender and the Ocean” is an opportunity to explore the gender dimension of humankind’s relationship with the ocean.

As a dedicated campaigner for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and with oceans and climate as key priorities, Peace Boat partnered with the United Nations and dozens of civil society groups, as part of the Friends of World Oceans Day informal working group, to organize a series of events to celebrate this occasion.

Following a day of discussions and dialogue at the United Nations Headquarters, including a side event focusing on youth perspectives on our oceans, Peace Boat was honoured to host the World Oceans Day evening reception onboard our ship on June 7. Opened by the quartet of the UN Symphony Orchestra, the more than 500 guests attending this event were lucky to hear keynote remarks by Mr Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nationsl Legal Counsel, as well as Ms Lucie Brigham and Mr Robert Skinner of the United Nations Office for Partnerships.

The event also included the presentation of competition winners of the World Oceans Day photo competition by curator Ellen Cuylaerts, sponsored by Blancpain, as well as a special performance by Peace Boat’s own Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors. Participants could also enjoy the celebration with a dance and music performance presented by the WeOcean community with dancer Nilaya Sabnis and drummers Zach Parra, Kassa Overall and Ignabu, as well as a special live instrumental performance by DJ Spooky with violinists Andrei Matorin and Alexey Etcheverry, followed by DJ Michael Tello (Touch of Class/PillowTalk) with visuals by Javier Polo (Polo-roid).

Then, on June 8 the ship was host to a family-friendly day of activities, providing a venue for civil society to come together to highlight local initiatives on the SDGs, including but not limited to Goals 5, 13 and 14, and mobilize youth for an interactive dialogue on why the ocean matters and how to make a difference for our oceans. Each part of the programme highlighted and encourage youth engagement in raising awareness of the benefits derived from the ocean and our individual and collective duty to interact with oceans with the overarching theme of “Gender and Oceans.”

A special highlight of the day was keynote speeches by “Her Deepness” Dr Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer in Residence and Founder of Mission Blue, together with Mr Fabien Cousteau of the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning center and Ms Daniela Fernandez of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance.

Further programmes included presentations, film screenings, educational and cultural workshops, exhibitions and more. This day was made possible through the collaboration of close to 40 different organizations, and we are deeply grateful to all friends of the oceans who joined us for the event! Peace Boat looks forward to deepening further engagement and partnership with all those involved, and continued joint initiatives for the sustainability of our oceans and for future generations.