Reflections from the Our Ocean Conference in Greece

By Ailars David

Photo: SOA youth leadership summit delegation at our ocean conference, Greece (Credit: Sustainable Ocean Alliance)

Introduction: A Journey of Inspiration

As I stepped into the grand halls of the Our Ocean Conference in Greece, I was filled with a sense of anticipation and hope. Representing Tanzania, a country with a rich marine heritage and diverse coastal communities, I felt a profound responsibility to voice the concerns and aspirations of our youth. This conference was more than just a gathering of minds; it was a melting pot of ideas, a platform for action, and a beacon of hope for our oceans’ future.

During the Our Ocean Conference in Greece we also had 7th annual Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit (OOYLS) in Athens, Greece from April 15-17, 2024 hosted by Sustainable Ocean Alliance in cooperation with Our Ocean Greece (OOC-9) and with support from the Ministry of the Environment and Energy of Greece (MoEE).

Photo: Ailars David at Our Ocean Conference and Youth Leadership Summit, Athenes-Greece

The Conference Experience: A World of Learning and Collaboration

Both the Youth Leadership Summit and Our Ocean Conference was an eye-opener in many ways. It brought together global leaders, scientists, activists, and youth advocates, all united by a common goal: to protect and preserve our oceans. The discussions ranged from marine pollution and sustainable fishing to climate change, marine protected areas and marine biodiversity. It was a humbling experience to see how interconnected our challenges are and how crucial it is to collaborate across borders.

One of the most inspiring aspects of the conference was the emphasis on youth participation. Youth from across the globe raised their voices, calling for the defense of the deep sea and the ratification and protection of high seas agreements. This was particularly evident in sessions led by Forbi Perise, the SOA African Regional representative, and Khadija Stewarts, the SOA Caribbean Regional representative. They passionately advocated for the Agenda 30 by 30 conservation action force, emphasizing the urgency of expanding marine protected areas.

Thanks to the support from the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, I was selected among 100 youth delegates from around the world. This opportunity allowed me to connect and learn from inspiring actions taken in various parts of the world. I also had the chance to meet inspiring leaders in the ocean space such as Markus Knigge, CEO of Blue Action Fund, Dr. Rebecca Hubbard, Director of the High Seas Alliance, Dr. Tiara Moore, CEO of Black in Marine Science, Her deepness Dr.Sylvia Earle, Nikos Therapos, my mentor and Director of DOTANK and many others. These interactions were not only educational but also deeply inspiring.

Why Youth Participation Matters: The Power of Collective Action

The ocean is a vital part of our lives in Tanzania. From the rich biodiversity of our coral reefs to the livelihoods that depend on fishing, the ocean is integral to our well-being and cultural identity. However, it faces numerous threats, from pollution and overfishing to the impacts of climate change. As the next generation, we have a critical role to play in addressing these challenges.

Youth participation in conferences like the Our Ocean Conference and the youth leadership summit is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Fresh Perspectives: Young people bring new ideas and innovative solutions to the table. We think outside the box and are not afraid to challenge the status quo.
  2. Sustainable Future: Engaging in these platforms helps us understand the complexities of environmental issues and the importance of sustainable practices. It empowers us to advocate for policies that ensure a healthy ocean for future generations.
  3. Global Network: Conferences provide an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals from around the world. These networks are invaluable for sharing knowledge, experiences, and resources that can drive local and global change.

A Call to Tanzanian Youth: Be the Change

I urge my fellow Tanzanian youth to seize opportunities to participate in such conferences and initiatives. Your voice matters. Your actions matter. Whether you are a student, an activist, or simply someone passionate about the environment, your contribution is vital. Kindly consider joining our hub and join more than 246 youth working to save our ocean.

Conclusion: The Future is in Our Hands

Participating in the Our Ocean Conference was a transformative experience that strengthened my resolve to protect our oceans. It made me realize that while the challenges are vast, so are the opportunities for making a difference. As Tanzanian youth, we have the power to shape the future of our oceans. Let us rise to the occasion, be bold, and lead the way towards a sustainable and thriving marine environment.

Together, we can make waves of change that will ripple across generations.

Call to Action:

To my fellow Tanzanian youth, let’s take action today for a better tomorrow. Join me in being the voice and force for our oceans. The future is ours to shape, and it starts with us.

1 thought on “Reflections from the Our Ocean Conference in Greece”

  1. Neema Theonest

    Am highly Passionate On Conservation issues, especially of our sea as we know about 70% of our earth is covered by water which play a vital role in our lives survival. That each of us, have to ensure well conservation of ocean ecosystem to promote Suistainable Development.
    And a well in public speaking concern climate and Oceanic conservation matter, since have addressing climate change mitigating in school and community level. Am also looking forward for both National and International conferences that address ocean awareness and goals also climate issues.
    ” The Future Is Bright, and the Future is Ours”

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