World Ocean Day is celebrated every 8 June as a reminder of how integral our seas are to life on Earth.
A United Nations initiative, Oceans Day was first declared in 1992 following the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, also known as the Earth Summit, which led to important climate change goals.
In 2008, 8 June was officially designated as World Ocean Day, with a different theme each year.
What is World Ocean Day?
The day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the benefits humans get from the ocean and our individual and collective duty to use its resources sustainably.
It is also a chance to celebrate and appreciate what the ocean provides, from the oxygen we breathe to the inspiration it provides artists.
Why does World Ocean Day matter?
Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet, produce at least 50% of the world’s oxygen, are home to most of the Earth’s biodiversity and are the main source of protein for more than a billion people.
They also absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans – a buffer for the detrimental impacts of global warming.
The UN hopes World Ocean Day will help inform the public of human actions on the ocean and develop a worldwide movement to protect it and unite the world in sustainably managing the oceans.
What is this year’s theme and what are they hoping to achieve?
The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods is 2021’s World Ocean Day theme.
By 2030, an estimated 40 million people will be employed by ocean-based industries.
But the UN says we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished, with 90% of big fish populations currently depleted and 50% of coral reefs destroyed.
It says a new balance must be created, “rooted in true understanding of the ocean and how humanity relates to it”.
The aim of the day is to build a connection to the ocean that is “inclusive, innovative and informed by lessons from the past”.
Why is this year particularly important?
It is vital to help protect the ocean every day, but this World Ocean Day comes in the year that the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development begins.
From 2021 to 2030, efforts are being made to use our current knowledge of the oceans better to help politicians and decision-makers choose the best options to save oceans and measure the possible consequences of policies.
The decade is also aimed at supporting a sustainable Blue Economy, sharing the responsibility of protecting oceans and at bolstering scientific research and technologies.
It is all part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all UN members to end poverty and other deprivations, reduce inequality, spur economic growth, tackle climate change and preserve our oceans and resources.
Who can get involved?
Science centres, research institutes, governments, NGOs, businesses and communities all around the world are planning local and global events involving millions of people.
But you do not have to be part of a group to get involved.
World Ocean Day is happening virtually for the second year in a row, thanks to the pandemic, meaning anyone can sign up to hear talks.
Last year, 350,000 people watched the programme, while 60 million people were talking about it on social media.
There will be a wide range of more than 40 people talking, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, actor and environmentalist Gael Garcia Bernal, PhD marine biology student Nicole Yamase, ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, actor and oceans activist Sam Waterstone and Marisa Drew, chief sustainability officer at Credit Suisse.
Events start at 10am EST (3pm UK time) and will end with a virtual Concert for the Ocean from 4.10pm EST (9pm UK time).
You can sign up for the events here.
Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.
The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.
Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.