Author: Natasha Palance
Editors: Dilber Shatursun and Anik Ghose
Photos by: Natasha Palance
In commemoration of World Oceans Day, the Peace Boat, the world’s largest renewable-energy-powered vessel sailing around the world to promote peace and sustainability, docked in New York City on June 8 as part of its 101st Global Voyage for Peace. In partnership with the United Nations and over 40 civil society groups, the day was filled with events campaigning for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including but not limited to Goals 5, 13 and 14 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Peace Boat, a global NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations and a core member of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), has helped to raise awareness and build connections internationally for peace, human rights, environmental protection and sustainable development since its establishment in 1983. The vessel voyages to more than 80 countries around the globe annually to educate and inspire progressive change within communities.
The World Oceans Day event onboard the vessel celebrated the U.N. designated holiday by raising global awareness of oceanic conservation and the need for a more sustainable future. This year’s theme was ‘Gender and Ocean,’ emphasizing the gender dimension of human relationships with the ocean.
The afternoon began with an opening performance from the U.N. Symphony Orchestra quartet, followed by keynote remarks given by Mr. Yoshioka Tatsuya, Founder and Director of Peace Boat and of the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors Program, ‘Her Deepness’ Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer in Residence and Founder of Mission Blue, Mr. Fabien Cousteau of the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center, and Ms. Daniela Fernandez of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance.
“What is the future we want?” Dr. Earle began – a question that encompassed the theme of the event, ‘the power of knowing.’ Dr. Earle’s keynote speech continued on to discuss the urgency for a united globe connected by the common ground of peace and prosperity. The Peace Boat serves as a physical manifestation of this global aspiration, and provides a place for international communities to connect based on “the differences that unite us,” Dr. Earle explained. “We must make peace with nature if we want to make peace among ourselves.” Dr. Earle concluded by inspiring action in attendees by questioning whether the SDG on marine conservation will be fulfilled by the 2022 U.N. Climate Change Conference.
With participants representing various United Nations agencies, civil society and the private sector, the more than 500 guests aboard the vessel enjoyed forums introducing a range of initiatives for ocean preservation, in addition to film screenings, educational and cultural panels, exhibits, live music and dance performances. Programs educated on oceanic benefits within international communities and emphasized our collective duty to conserve oceans.
On board the ship was also the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors U.N. Program, young leaders from the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Carribbean who are passionate activists on climate change and ocean degradation. Their journey began in Malta with stops in Spain, Morocco and Portugal until reaching the final stop in New York.
The program provided youth-focused activities with a domain to engage in a dialogue on ocean conservation. The day came to a close with presentations from youth representatives from Ocean Heroes Meetup. “We’d rather die trying than die from not trying to save the planet,” one Youth Ambassador, Palal, passionately expressed.
Peace Boat is currently developing a new vessel called the Ecoship, which would enable the reduction of CO2 emissions by 40%, achieve zero SOx and NOx emissions, and recycle 100% of its water and waste. “The Peace Boat has a good chance for receiving a second Nobel Peace Prize,” Dr. Earle commented.
New York City was honored to join hands with others on this voyage towards a more peaceful and prosperous world through ocean conservation and sustainability. We look forward to a cleaner future!
Check out Tzu Chi’s recent ocean conservation initiatives at this year’s fourth session of the U.N. Environment Assembly. Let’s join hands to be a part of the solution!