Tuesday, 27 June 2017

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Education at the heart of saving our ocean

unric school visit seaside cleanup cover

16.06.2017 – The Ocean Conference, which took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from the 5th until the 9th of June achieved a breakthrough with respect to the global governance of our oceans and an important step towards the achievement of SDG 14.

The Conference discussed all aspects of life below water, ranging from marine pollution and ocean acidification to illegal fishing and depletion of fish resources.

“The Ocean Conference has changed our relationship with the ocean,” said the President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson. “Henceforth none can say they were not aware of the harm humanity has done to the ocean’s health. We are now working around the world to restore a relationship of balance and respect towards the ocean.”

Because education also plays an important role for the implementation of 2030 Agenda and for the protection of our ocean, the Benelux desk at UNRIC invited a primary school to connect with nature on the Belgian coast.

In order to bring the outcome of the Ocean Conference to the attention of the Belgian public, the Sint-Jansschool from Menen visited the theme park SeaFront in Zeebrugge and took part in a beach clean-up.. 

After a guided tour of the park and an interactive presentation on the goals and results of the Ocean Conference, the pupils were encouraged to express their ideas on what a healthy ocean should look like making drawings of both a polluted as well as a clean ocean. In the afternoon, the pupils went to the beach where experienced guides explained how we can better protect our oceans and seas. 

unric school visit seaside cleanup

They also actively contributed to a cleaner North Sea by participating in a beach cleanup and were very surprised by the poor condition of the beach.

The amount of waste they found evoked disgust. “Why do people throw their rubbish on the ground? It is not that hard to put it into a dustbin.”

The educational trip therefore clearly had an effect on the mindset of the pupils. Given that they all like to eat fish, they promised not to throw any rubbish on the ground in the future, to avoid fish being contaminated with plastic”.

Some pupils also “promised to scold their friends and family when they got home if they threw something on the ground.”

 

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