11 young climate and ocean-focused activists from around the world, the Youth for the SDGs scholars, completed a unique 22-day experiential learning program onboard Peace Boat’s 114th Global Voyage, traveling from the UK to Norway to Iceland and through the Arctic region.
The Arctic Voyage was the first of two Youth for the SDGs programs organized onboard Peace Boat’s 114th Global Voyage under the banner of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
The Arctic Voyage program provided an enriching experience for the young leaders who are actively engaged in promoting sustainability within their local communities. Through a combination of capacity development, citizen science, networking and educational programs onboard Peace Boat and at various port destinations, participants broadened their knowledge of marine science and climate action on a scale from local to global. The overarching theme was linked to UN World Oceans Day’s 2023 theme “Planet Ocean, Tides are Changing,” and the importance of SDG 14, Life Below Water, to inspire positive actions to safeguard our oceans.
The journey commenced in London on May 24, with the Ocean and Climate Networking Reception, which brought together like-minded organizations including: Beach Token, Blue Marine Foundation, Commonwealth Blue Charter, Google Sustainability + Arts, Oceanic Global, UOCEAN, and the Youth for the SDGs leaders. While in the UK, the scholars joined a program on waste collection with UOCEAN, and conducted their first of several water-quality tests, using kits provided by EarthEcho International, used for data-sharing with the IOC UNESCO Ocean Data Information System at the United Nations. Also in London, participants visited the Natural History Museum, the British Library Ocean Science and Art Exhibit, as well as the Natural Maritime Museum.
As the ship departed from the port of Tilbury toward Norway, intensive onboard educational programs took place in three main areas: 1. Attending seminars and workshops led by guest educators on SDG-related themes; 2. Study and reflection about experiences in port and how they relate to their current work; and 3. Developing their own presentations about issues they face in their home communities and how they are tackling them. These presentations were delivered both onboard as well as at public events while the ship was in port.
“I really enjoyed not only learning about environmental issues in the Arctic, but also inspiring passengers onboard. It was a great opportunity to present in front of passengers and tell them that every small action matters.”Yuki Kobayashi, Japan
Peace Boat ventured into the remarkable landscapes of Norway and visited several ports in the country. In Tromso, participants visited the Arctic Economic Council and met with its Director Mads Qvist Frederiksen and Daniel Vermeer from Duke University Oceans Program to discuss Arctic resources, communities, and challenges around sustainable development. Scholars also took an excursion to Gasvaer Island for a kelp study program and plastic debris clean-up.
While in Longyearbyen, scholars visited the North Pole Expedition Museum, and conducted water research, examining crucial factors such as pH levels, temperature, and oxygen levels. The final stop was to the Svalbard Museum, and a meeting with professors and Ph.D. students specializing in chemical oceanography at the University Center in Svalbard, the northernmost university in the world.
The Arctic Voyage concluded with a visit to two ports in Iceland. The scholars joined a Elding Whale Watching tour in the fjords of Akureyri and visited Orka Natturunnar (ON), a geothermal power plant where they learned about Iceland’s unique geothermal energy production. The final stop was the Blue Lagoon, where participants joined a wellness program and learned about sustainable tourism at the renowned destination that is considered one of the 25 wonders of the world.
The Peace Boat US Youth for the SDGs Arctic Voyage program enabled the participants to gain a wide range of knowledge through hands-on experience about how the climate is changing and impacting the Arctic region.
“Being a part of this program equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to make a positive impact in my community and the world.”Maria Fernanda, Panama
Participants returned to their home countries with greater capacity to make a positive impact on climate and ocean related issues, and a new network of young activists and practitioners working towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“I have truly enjoyed the chance to learn from all of the other youth participants. Their work has given me tremendous insight on how I could effect change in my home community.“Monique Calerderon, Saint Lucia