OCEA(n)RT – boosting youth participation in ocean protection through visual art

COVID-19 has been a global challenge without precedent, generating serious and multilevel concerns. Several studies focus on the positive effects, as pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen across continents, but environmental stakeholders have spotted dramatic direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 to the oceans and the life below water.

In particular, the surge of the pandemic has led to the increased use of plastic medical and protective equipment, such as single-use gloves, face masks and aprons. Much of this equipment must be discarded after use to limit the spread of the virus. Environmental organisations in Europe’s coastal areas have come across large quantities of latex gloves, face masks and bottles of hand sanitiser in the Mediterranean Sea upon exploration – a new kind of pollution that adds to the already existing and huge problem of marine plastic pollution and poses environmental, economic, health-related and aesthetic problems.

Plastic waste can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose, and even then, it never fully disappears. It just gets smaller and smaller. By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean.” – United Nations, 2021. Exhibit In Images: Plastic Is Forever

“It is imperative to launch coordinated efforts from environmental scientists, medical agencies, and solid waste managing organizations, and the general public to minimize the negative impacts of disposal mask, and eventually prevent it from becoming another too-big-to-handle problem.”Preventing masks from becoming the next plastic problem, 2021.

Young people can play a pivotal role in spreading actions across generations by being agents of change, joining collective activities, and raising awareness. Collaborative action can influence policies, for example through voting, taking part in advocacy groups and preparing to become future local, national and global leaders.” – United Nations, 2021. UNEP’s GEO-6 FOR YOUTH report

OCEA(n)RT will:

  • Extend the competences of youth workers, strengthening their ability to enhance youth participation and to motivate youth and peers to address pandemic relevance to plastic litter through visual art works.
  • Enhance access to relevant roadmaps and good practices to ensure youth participation in ocean protection activities.
  • Support CSO’s, youth and environmental organisations, cultural and creative sector grassroots to raise public awareness, in order to lead and contribute to the development of youth policies that promote active participation of youth in the fight against marine plastic litter.

Intellectual Outputs

The project will produce, pilot and disseminate two intellectual outputs:

  • A Guide for CSO’s, youth and environmental organisations, cultural and creative grassroots
  • A Capacity Building Programme for youth workers