On 1 February 2023, the DOORS Ocean Literacy Network was kicked off in Trabzon, Türkiye. The Network is co-chaired by Dina Eparkhina of EuroGOOS and Mike Rea, the DOORS communication lead. From the outset, the Network works in synergy with several other European activities on ocean literacy, including the EuroGOOS UN Ocean Decade project Scientists for Ocean Literacy and the European Commission’s EU4Ocean coalition.
Academia, NGOs, and experts in science-policy engagement and science communication have joined the Network, which involves all Black Sea countries participating in DOORS. 16 experts took part in the hybrid kick-off meeting in Trabzon. Additionally, three initiatives were invited to profile their work and discuss opportunities for collaboration. These are EU projects BRIDGE-BS and GES4SEAS and the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute. EuroGOOS showcased its ocean literacy activities executed through the Ocean Literacy Working Group, EU4Ocean coalition, and the UN Ocean Decade.
Ocean Literacy has been widely recognized as a strategic enabler to engage with policy and society on the topics of ocean sustainability and blue economy (EuroGOOS, 2021). Ocean Literacy is a cross-cutting enabler in the European Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters 2030. The Mission Starfish proposal states that by 2030 (European Commission, 2020):
- Literacy and knowledge about the water system must be compulsory elements in all science curricula in primary and secondary schools throughout the EU;
- 50 percent of Europeans should have participated in events organised by the pan-European ocean literacy coalition (EU4Ocean);
- At least 50 percent of the European blue workforce will have been upskilled or re-skilled.
According to UNESCO, Ocean Literacy has a twofold goal: to learn more about the world’s ocean, and to contribute to the co-design and co-delivery of solutions to the problems and threats it faces (UNESCO, 2021).
The DOORS Ocean Literacy Network aims to contribute to an increased public awareness about the importance of ocean science and sustainability and the work of DOORS. It will help engage with citizens along the pillars of the Black Sea Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (Knowledge Bridge, Blue Economy, Key Infrastructure and Policy Enablers, Empowered Citizens and Enhanced Blue Force).
The Network has the following specific objectives:
- Help connecting DOORS science with education, youth, and general public;
- Use DOORS results (or spill-offs of thereof) to demonstrate to the citizens the societal value of the DOORS efforts;
- Develop ‘Science meets Education’ sessions at schools and organise scientific gaming and competitions;
- Develop activities using the existing resources such as marine litter collection programmes and the EuroGOOS Ocean Literacy resources library;
- Contribute to the DOORS efforts popularising ocean science through outreach; and
- Promote the ongoing OL activities by the DOORS Ocean Literacy Network members.
DOORS has been actively promoting its work and results to the public. In addition to ocean literacy, the project has a vibrant science outreach through videos, podcasts and articles, and is developing several citizen science activities. Watch this space for more information as new resources are becoming available on the website and the DOORS social medial accounts: https://www.doorsblacksea.eu/.