Brief history of the oceans day
The United Nations celebrates World Oceans Day every year on 8 June. Many countries have celebrated this special day since 1992, following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro.
30 March 2023
1992: Declaration of Oceans Day
Oceans Day was first declared as 8 June, 1992 in Rio de Janeiro at the Global Forum, a parallel event at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which provided an opportunity for non-government organizations (NGOs) and civil society to express their views on environmental issues.
The Declaration was inspired by an event organized on that day by the Oceans Institute of Canada and supported by the Canadian Government: “OCEANS DAY AT GLOBAL FORUM – THE BLUE PLANET”. The programme featured international experts, opinion leaders and those in a position to speak for the oceans’ contributions to sustaining the Blue Planet.
2008: UN Designation of World Oceans Day
In 2008, led by Canada, the General Assembly resolved that 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day”. (General Assembly resolution 63/111)
In the interim, observation of Oceans Day had broadened and deepened. The need and scope for this was reflected in the broad range of concerns expressed in 2008 by the UN Secretary-General, including implementation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, maritime space, international shipping, maritime security, marine science and technology, marine biological diversity, the marine environment and sustainable development, climate change and regional and international cooperation. The awareness and action spurred by observation of World Oceans Day would be crucial in all these areas.
2009: First United Nations World Oceans Day Observed
The theme of the inaugural observance of World Oceans Day by the United Nations in 2009 was ‘Our Oceans, Our Responsibility’. “The first observance of World Oceans Day allows us to highlight the many ways in which oceans contribute to society. It is also an opportunity to recognize the considerable challenges we face in maintaining their capacity to regulate the global climate, supply essential ecosystem services and provide sustainable livelihoods and safe recreation.” – then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
2017: United Nations Ocean Conference & World Oceans Day
The Declaration of World Oceans Day in 2008 catalysed action worldwide. Twenty-five years after the first Oceans Day took place in Rio de Janeiro at UNCED, a special event on 8 June marked its celebration during the United Nations Ocean Conference held from 5-9 June 2017. The Ocean Conference was convened to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)14 in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
2020: First Virtual United Nations World Oceans Day Event
While traditionally an event held at the UN HQ in NYC, due to COVID-19 the United Nations World Oceans Day 2020 was the first ever digital rendition, accessible to the global public.
2022: First Hybrid United Nations World Oceans Day Event