All Things Ocean: Expanding Public Awareness for the Future of Human Survival

All you need to know about the World Ocean Observatory

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The World Ocean Observatory was founded in 2005 as a recommendation of a 1998 Independent Commission on the Future of the Ocean and was designed to be a central global observatory and place of exchange for ocean information, education, and public discourse. The mission of the World Ocean Observatory (W2O) is to expand public awareness of the implication of the ocean for the future of human survival; to serve as an independent forum and focus for ocean affairs; to advocate for the ocean through an open worldwide network of communications; and to provide a window on the future of the ocean for the general public and decision makers around the world.

The premises of the Independent Commission report are as follows:

· All life depends on the ocean for water, food, energy, climate transport, vitality, and survival;

· The ocean is an interconnected global ecosystem that integrates natural processes, habitat, and species with human intervention and impacts;

· The ocean is a comprehensive social system that integrates human need for fresh water, food, energy, health, transport, and recreation;

· The ocean is a complex political system that integrates nations and connects people through economic interests, cultural traditions, and cooperative governance;

· The ocean evinces today a critical shift from abundance to scarcity, and from accommodation to conflict;

· The ocean is viewed today as a place apart, its significance fundamentally misunderstood and critically ignored at most levels of society;

· The ocean demands a new information service that meets the needs of an inquisitive public and transcends efforts of governments, research organizations, national interest groups, and non-governmental organizations with more narrowly defined environmental agendas.

Our goal then, based on the above premises, was to build a World Ocean Observatory, a virtual educational initiative incorporating ocean information into exhibits, educational innovations, public programs, informational services, and to share these resources through partnerships, existing museums, science centers, aquaria, libraries, NGOs, schools and other educational institutions, reaching audiences around the world with the greatest effect and economy of scale.

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Our strategies for the W2O are as follows:

· To be both virtual and physical;

· To communicate globally from a center here on the coast of Maine;

· To be both reactive and proactive;

· To be both retrospective and prospective;

· To exploit the efficiency of partnerships and existing structures;

· To reach a diverse audience locally and worldwide;

· To affect the inter-generational transfer of knowledge;

· To be science-based and humanities driven;

· To be non-litigious, independent, and apolitical;

· To advocate through information and education;

· To promote civil discourse, peace, and security on the ocean.

We do this through various communications tools. We have our website, now visited by over 1.5 million people each year; we have World Ocean Radio, a global podcast syndicated through college and community radio stations across the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and through Internet radio on both coasts of Africa. Some of those episodes are translated into other languages including Swahili. We have an Ocean Directory; we have a huge collection of curriculum for marine educators, science educators, and the general public; we have a digital magazine: World Ocean Journal. The last issue was based on the ocean and freshwater; the 2017 issue is based on the theme of the ocean and human health. And we have this World Ocean Forum on the Medium platform, where we invite outside experts to contribute pieces that we then circulate through our various networks and social media.

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Social media indeed is a very large part of what we do. In mid-August 2017 we reached over 500,000 followers on Facebook alone. And with the follow-on audiences for World Ocean Radio, the World Ocean Journal, our social media outlets and more, we can in fact reach possibly millions around the globe, constituting a vast community of citizens of the ocean. You are one of this vast group of people worldwide who understand that the sustainable ocean is the absolute necessity for human survival.

Join us. Spread the word. Share World Ocean Radio. Share the World Ocean Forum. Share our website and our resources with your friends, neighbors and all others who understand that without the ocean we are nothing.

In fact, the sea connects all things.

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Peter Neill is founder and director of the World Ocean Observatory and is author of the 2016 “The Once and Future Ocean: Notes Toward a New Hydraulic Society” available wherever books are sold.

Written by

Dedicated to sharing information about ocean issues: climate to trade, culture to governance. The sea connects all things. Online at

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