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On 8 June every year, you hear talk of World Oceans Day. Why yet another World this or that Day? What is the point?
In a nutshell, World Oceans Day is, above all, an opportunity to make the whole world aware of how all of mankind benefits from oceans, and of the need to use their resources in a sustainable manner. It's as "simple" as that.
30 years after World Oceans Day came into existence, scientific centres, research institutes, NGOs, companies in the private and financial sectors, communities and governments the world over mobilise millions of people on this occasion in local and worldwide events in 70 countries.
First held in 1992, World Oceans Day was launched by the Earth Summit, an event that took place in parallel with the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED), which was held in Rio de Janeiro in the same year.
An event organised on this day in 1992 is at the origin of World Oceans Day: the Oceans Day at the Earth Summit: the blue planet. The agenda included international experts, opinion-leaders and people capable of talking about how oceans contribute to sustaining the blue planet.
It was only officially designated by a United Nations resolution in 2008.
So, what went on between 1992 and 2008? A lot of work. The implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the territorial sea, international navigation, maritime safety, marine sciences and technologies, marine biological diversity, the marine environment and sustainable development, climate change and regional and international cooperation (just for starters).
Then, in 2008, the declaration of World Oceans Day acted as a catalyst for the actions taken all over the world.
In 2017, another event took place. The Oceans Conference was convened to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
In 2020, even though this event is usually organised at the UN's headquarters in New York, due to COVID-19, the United Nations World Oceans Day was the very first digital event that could be accessed by a worldwide audience.
Because 50% of the oxygen we breathe comes from oceans. This figure alone should be enough to convince us of the importance of taking care of our oceans…
And while it is necessary to protect the oceans all year long, World Days offer us an opportunity to highlight certain important international issues. They are also a means of making the general public aware of certain essential subjects.
Want some more figures?
A World Economic Forum study estimates that there will soon be more plastic than fish in the oceans (by around 2050).
Oceans cover almost three quarters of the surface of our planet. That's quite a lot.
The United Nations offers a good explanation. "Each international day is an opportunity to inform the general public on subjects related to major issues. These days are an opportunity for public authorities and civil society to organise awareness-raising activities and to mobilise resources.
The existence of international days predates the creation of the United Nations, but the UN has adopted them as a powerful awareness-raising tool. The United Nations observes international days, weeks, years and decades, each with a specific theme. By creating these celebrations, the United Nations favours international awareness and action on these questions.”
Therefore, the reasons for creating an official day for oceans were quite obvious.
Oceans cover 71% of our planet's surface.
A World Economic Forum study estimates that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
According to the association Surfrider Foundation Europe, 80% of the waste in the oceans comes from inland: fly tipping, leaks of industrial plastic pellets, dumping on roads, etc.
"Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing" for the Ocean” is the theme of this year's event. A notable post-COVID occasion: this will be the second hybrid format of this annual event, which will be held at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York and broadcast live.
In 2021, 1,416 tonnes of single-use plastic packaging materials were removed from Decathlon's products, compared with 300 tonnes in 2020. The packaging team is committed to eliminating all single-use plastic packaging by 2026.
Decathlon has begun its transition. Although by 1 January 2025 new washing machines will have to be equipped with plastic microfibre filters, there is still the complex issue of producing textiles that are less polluting.
Decathlon has also joined a group of several companies to establish composition standards through testing. Which fabric breaks down easiest? Finding the answer to this question will enable us to select and use materials which minimise the release of microfibres.
To give you an idea…
In 2019, Decathlon sold 270,612 tonnes of plastic, equivalent to 27 Eiffel Towers.
We estimate that 3,931 tonnes ended up in the ocean.
The equivalent of 185 toothbrushes being thrown into the ocean every minute. For a whole year.