© UNESCO Andrew Wheeler
Renowned French navigator Maud Fontenoy has been named UNESCO-IOC and World Ocean Network Spokesperson for the Ocean.
The nomination was announced just ahead of the first United Nations World Ocean Day, which will celebrated on June 8 under the theme “one ocean, one climate, one future”.
As Spokesperson for UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the World Ocean Network – a non-governmental organization – Ms Fontenoy will work to raise awareness of the need to protect the ocean environment against major threats such as climate change, pollution and unchecked urban development of the world’s coastal areas.
Ms Fontenoy, 31, rowed across the Atlantic in 2003 and then across the Pacific in 2005. In 2006 -2007 she sailed solo around the Southern hemisphere, against the current. An outspoken defender of the ocean, she is also vice-president of the Conservatoire national du littoral in France, and president of the Maud Fontenoy Foundation.
"For us she is an emblematic spokesperson for the ocean's future," said Bernal.
This is the first year the United Nations has officially designated 8 June as World Ocean Day and it corresponds with an effort to increase awareness of the responsibilities
we share living with an ocean on our planet. UNESCO-IOC welcomes the decision of the UN
General Assembly to officially recognize this world-wide event.
Several activities are planned this month for UNESCO-IOC. The nomination of Ms Fontenoy was announced at a press conference on 3 June with Patricio Bernal, IOC Executive Secretary, physical oceanographer Jacques Merle, and Philippe Vallette, co-chair of the World Ocean Network and director general of its headquarters Nausicaá, the National Centre of the Sea in Boulogne, France.
The Secretariat of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the
Cultural Heritage will contribute to the UNESCO exhibition for World
Ocean Day on June 8 with photos of selected underwater cultural
heritage sites. The large images (1,80 m width) illustrate the beauty
traces of human existence covered by the waves. Like 'time capsules',
submerged objects reveal fascinating stories about the past. From
shipwrecks to underwater caves, the exhibition is an insight to the
of the underwater cultural heritage and its astonishing condition of
conservation through the centuries of time, or even millennia.
UNESCO works on several fronts to conserve and protect marine biodiversity and the cultural heritage of the ocean, improve our understanding of ocean systems, coordinate global ocean monitoring efforts, and develop marine ecosystem-based management.
The ocean is essential to food security and the health and survival of all life, powers our climate and is a critical part of the biosphere. The official designation of World Ocean Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the ocean.
From Algeria’s beaches on the Mediterranean to Norway’s
polar bears and Japan’s coral reefs, the issues each country faces with respect
to the ocean is shared globally via ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns
and our own contributions to pollution and climate change. Communication
between governments, the public, and scientists is imperative in establishing
sustainably-based management plans for the ocean’s future. World Ocean Day strengthens
international awareness and cooperation and helps in expanding local concerns
into global action.
After the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, several countries began promoting World Ocean Day. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) sponsors the World Ocean Network, which has since 2002 been instrumental in building support for ocean awareness events on 8 June. This year the World Ocean Network supports the theme “one ocean, one climate, one future,” which corresponds with the UNESCO-IOC goals of promoting intergovernmental cooperation for ocean research on a global scale under the banner “one planet, one ocean.”
The mandate given to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission in 1960 stressed that "the oceans, covering some seventy percent of the earth's surface, exert a profound influence on mankind and even on all forms of life on Earth... In order to properly interpret the full value of the oceans to mankind, they must be studied from many points of view. While pioneering research and new ideas usually come from individuals and small groups, many aspects of oceanic investigations present far too formidable a task to be undertaken by any one nation or even a few nations."
UNESCO is proud to join the UN, leading educational institutions, conservation organizations, and individuals in countries around the world in celebrating World Ocean Day and the personal connection everyone on the planet shares with the sea, regardless of how far they are from the coast. An estimated 42 countries are hosting events in celebration of the day. The World Ocean Network lists nearly 50 events happening throughout France and its overseas departments and territories.