Philippe Cousteau on the State of the Ocean - World Ocean Day 2021

Covering roughly 140 million square miles and containing 1.3 sextillion (yes, you read that right) liters of water, the ocean covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface. It is home to 80% of all life on Earth, is the source of 20% of the animal protein that we eat, and more than 3 billion people depend on it for their livelihood. On top of all of that, it absorbs as much as half of the carbon emissions we’ve produced in the last century. The ocean makes life as we know it possible. But, as Ashlan put it in our new book Oceans for Dummies, “Unfortunately, the ocean is taking the brunt of humanity’s ecological abuses,” and there is only so much abuse any ecosystem can withstand. 

The last 60-70 years have seen the greatest destruction of the world’s ocean and frankly, despite all the talk of sustainability, we don’t want to sustain the way the ocean is today, we need to restore it. And the good news is that we have tools to do just that, restore the ocean, and we know that they work…which is pretty exciting when you think about it.

One of the growing initiatives building consensus around the world is the importance of establishing areas on Earth that are fully and completely protected. Areas where complex ecosystems can provide refuge for biodiversity and maintain the function of our ocean are essential albeit seemingly simple solutions. That is why, as part of our mission at EarthEcho International to build a global youth movement to protect and restore our ocean planet, our Youth Action Network launched the OceanEcho 30x30 initiative in 2020. Through the OceanEcho 30x30 campaign, young people across 32 countries and territories have mobilized to lead education and outreach events on marine protected areas (MPAs); plan and direct youth-driven coastal habitat restorations; and drive policy/advocacy actions around the intersection of ocean and climate issues.

People often ask me if there is hope. My response? ABSOLUTLEY – and were do I see this hope? On the face of every extraordinary young person we work with who is part of this incredible generation of youth leading the charge. With them on our side we can stop the abuse and give the ocean an opportunity to heal and return to its once previous abundance. Humanity has the solutions to restore our ocean planet, and the youth we work with at EarthEcho bring the will to see those solutions come to life.

Happy World Ocean Day,