Twenty-three Youth Ambassadors from countries connected to the Atlantic Ocean participated in a Summer School in Galway, Ireland, from 23 to 27 August 2019. The Summer School aimed at equipping Youth Ambassadors with the knowledge and skills to become actors for change for the Atlantic Ocean.
Youth Ambassadors from Ireland, Iceland, Canada, United States of America, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil Argentina and Cabo Verde took take part in the programme developed within the scope the All Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.
The Summer School provided Youth Ambassadors with the opportunity to engage with political, social, economic and scientific leaders to develop their skills to become actors for change in 2019 and beyond. The Youth Ambassadors learned from experts on how to develop communication campaigns on ocean issues, reach out and engage local communities and experience the challenges of those living by the ocean. The Summer School also introduced the power of science diplomacy and the work of the All Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.
Irish Minister Seán Kyne said, “With the Atlantic Ocean facing significant challenges posed by climate change and marine pollution, due to plastics in particular, the health of our ocean relies on the voices of the next generation to continue the current momentum for change. I welcome our Youth Ambassadors to Galway, and congratulate them for taking part in this initiative. This Summer School will encourage our young ambassadors to raise awareness of the crucial value of our oceans in their own communities and contribute to the global momentum for change.”
Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, said, “To ensure a healthy ocean for us now and for future generations, we all need to be better informed about how the ocean affects us and how we affect the ocean. This Summer School will equip our All-Atlantic Youth Ambassadors with the skills to become ocean leaders and marine champions, inspire them to work together and strive for a protected, nurtured and sustainably harnessed ocean.”
The Summer School included presentations, among many others, from Fionn Ferreira, winner of the Google Science Fair 2018-2019, who developed a method for extracting microplastics from water. Writer and reporter Lorna Siggins shared her considerable experience in journalism, particularly on marine issues and provide valuable feedback to the Youth Ambassadors. Máire Geoghegan Quinn, former European Commissioner for DG Research, Innovation & Science, shared her experience and wisdom on how science diplomacy influences policy.
Margaret Rae, Director of Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Co-ordination and Support Action (AORA CSA) said that the Summer School helped young people strengthen their voices and skillsets for the challenges facing us today in the Atlantic Ocean.
“We are at a crossroads, and we know we must change our behaviour. With the assistance of the National Youth Council of Ireland, we have developed an intense training programme focusing on advocacy, activism and amplifying messages to positively influence communities and our collective behaviour. Thanks to all the presenters for contributing to this programme and creating an exemplary Youth Ambassador boot camp,” Rae said.
Sofia Cordeiro, Coordinator of the All AtlaNtic Cooperation for Ocean Research and innovation Co-ordination and Support Action (AANChOR CSA), stated at the event that “we cannot build the All-Atlantic Ocean Community without the new generation. They are the future of ocean governance, research, innovation, education, and, of course, protection. These Youth Ambassadors will play a key role in driving the change that the Atlantic Ocean needs!”.
After completing the Summer School, the Youth Ambassadors will be assigned a project partner and develop campaigns and actions to address the sustainability challenges faced by the Atlantic Ocean, and pitch their achievements at the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum, that will take place in February 2020 in Brussels.
The Summer School has been developed by the AORA CSA in order to support the construction of the All Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, which results from the implementation of the Galway and the Belém Statements, as well as the EU cooperation arrangement with Argentina and Cape Verde. Its main goal is to enhance further ocean research and innovation to address the still considerable gaps in our knowledge and understanding of the Atlantic, from the Arctic to Antarctica. The European Union, USA, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Argentina and Cape Verde have already joined forces to support the Alliance, namely through the AORA CSA (led by Marine Institute, Ireland) and AANChOR CSA (led by FCT, Portugal).