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Sustainable oceans : our collective responsibility, our common interest. Building on real-life knowledge knowledge systems for developing interactive and mutual learning media

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - Respon-SEA-ble (Sustainable oceans : our collective responsibility, our common interest. Building on real-life knowledge knowledge systems for developing interactive and mutual learning media)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-03-31

Today, the ocean health is under threat as a result of many pressures imposed by human activities on marine ecosystems, e.g. maritime transport, mass tourism, over-fishing and aquaculture development, eutrophication from agriculture, etc, etc. It is expected that climate change and Blue Growth will further aggravate the situation – if changes do not take place in the way the ocean’s health is internalised into socio-economic development. Addressing these pressures, and shifting current practices and development models to more sustainable ones, require a shift in attitudes and behaviour from all concerned – economic sectors with direct pressures on marine ecosystems, sectors directly or indirectly connected to these up to final consumers, decision makers in charge of the development and implementation of the overall policy framework, actual and future citizens electing policy makers, etc. It is assumed that: (a) enhanced Ocean Literacy – i.e. a better understanding of the links between human (my own) activities and the ocean to be in a position to make informed decisions accounting for impacts, on, and opportunities from, the ocean – is a key component of changing development models and behaviour; and,(b) Ocean Literacy is for all sectors of society that need, individually and collectively,to make change happen.

How can we support Ocean Literacy for all? How to develop ocean literacy (with which pre-conditions) so it is effective in supporting changes in perception, attitude and behaviour towards more sustainable management of the ocean? How to assess the impacts/effectiveness of Ocean Literacy initiatives so as to gain better understanding and experience on “what works” – and be able to share and demonstrate the importance of Ocean Literacy?

These are questions that guided ResponSEAble in investigating Ocean Literacy challenges and solutions. Recognising the importance of a collective shift in attitude and behaviour, ResponSEAble addressed different segments of society – children and citizens, but also business & professionals, media, policy makers…. Its overall objective was to investigate and enhance ocean literacy in Europe, supporting the co-development of Ocean Literacy tools/products targeting different audiences, while identfying policy recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of ocean literacy initiatives.
ResponSEAble investigated three pillars of ocean literacy to develop ocean literacy products and strategies while mobilising a wide range of stakeholders
1. Knowledge - What is the current state of knowledge on the human-ocean relationships? What are pressures imposed on marine ecosystems, and benefits and opportunities the ocean provides?
2. Value chains – How are activities connected to the ocean linked to the rest of the economy? Which actors are part of “marine value chains” and who should be targeted in priority by Ocean literacy initiatives?
3. Knowledge sharing and transfer – Which ocean literacy intitiatives are in place ? How would these need to be adapted to be more effective?
ResponSEAble carried out activities such as: (a) the analysis of available knowledge on the human-ocean relationships – focusing on 6 challenges or key stories key to different sea basins in Europe (food from the sea, renewable energy, maritime transport and invasive species, agriculture and eutrophication, sustainable tourism and microplastics); (b) the co-development of Ocean Literacy products and of recommendations for effective ocean literacy in Europe; (c) the sharing and dissemination of experiences, results and recommendations to wider audiences.
In particular, ResponSEAble developed more than 40 OL products for a wide range of societal groups. It mobilized end-users in the co-building of tools/products (following living-lab principles), enhancing the relevance of the OL products. It developed and tested evaluation methods for assessing (ex-post) the effectiveness of OL tools. Overall, it helped bringing Ocean Literacy at the forefront of the marine policy agenda in Europe, developing policy recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of Ocean Literacy. The role of ResponSEAble in contributing to the policy agenda is illustrated by: (1) the European Parliament supports to the 2019 Ocean Dialogues, the final project event co-organised with the H2020 MARINA project including a policy workshop hosted at the European Parliament; (2) The attention given to Ocean literacy by DG MARE, building inter alias on the work carried out by ResponSEAble; (3) the attention given to Ocean Literacy by Helcom thanks to efforts made under ResponSEAble.
ResponSEAble had the following contributions with regards to Ocean Literacy in Europe: (a) demonstrating that OL is an issue for everyone beyond its traditional ‘science education’ focus, relevant to professionals of marine and land-based sectors including those relevant to Blue Growth; (b) stressing the importance of building OL going beyond marine science, including socio-economics, value chains or information systems; (c) illustrating the role of (participatory) processes for supporting the development, testing and evaluation of of OL tools ; (d) Demonstrating the role assessment of the effectiveness of ocean literacy products can have in supporting “learning-by-doing” and more cost-effective OL initiatives ; and (e) Identifying opportunities to be seized in existing policies so as to strengthen OL and its role for supporting ocean governance While being the formal end of ResponSEAble, the project final conference the 20189 Ocean Dialogues o-organised with another H2020 project – MARINA, was seen as a milestone in moving ocean literacy forward on the policy agenda in Europe and wider. By supporting effective Ocean literacy, ResponSEAble has supported longer term improvements in the sustainable use of the ocean – bringing benefits to different parts of society connected to the sea. Raising awareness and capacity today, including for younger generation, is expected to yield changes in the long term in perception, attitude and/or behavior that will reduce pressures on marine ecosystems. Results have in in particular helped capturing how the application of OL tools can lead to attitude and perception towards marine issues. To ensure wider societal impacts, and that results would continue “to live” once projects are over, resources have been allocated to: (a) bringing end-users into the OL tool development process at the onset to build ownership; (b) co-organising events with “sparing partners” and “multipliers” to gain visibility, widen the range of experiences shared and catch opportunities for further development; (c) integrating experiences developed into the Unesco Ocean Literacy Platform, EMSEA for sharing and disseminating these experiences worldwide . By bringing the Youth and Young professionals as contributors to the Ocean Literacy debate, ResponSEAble has contributed to shift the attention given to the Youth/Young people: not only as target groups of Ocean Literacy initiatives (the traditional view), but also as contributors to these initiatives bringing significant innovation and dynamism, including by using social media and new modes of expression that are very effective in supporting changes.
Overall, ResponSEAble work has contributed to wider changes that in the long-term will strengthen the governance and sustainable management of the ocean.