“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
Robert Swan, Author
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
Robert Swan, Author
Almost 1.5 million people watched the documentary Leaving Neverland earlier this month, making it the third most-watched HBO documentary in a decade. The four-hour documentary describes how Michael Jackson allegedly groomed and sexually abused two children, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, during the late ‘80s to mid-’90s.
Child sex abuse of the type alleged in Leaving Neverland generates strong and negative visceral reactions. Little of the information presented in Leaving Neverland was new, but it was a compelling narrative framed to draw in the audience and maximize sympathy for the alleged victims.
In her post-screening interviews of Jackson’s articulate and thoughtful accusers, Oprah Winfrey said child sex abuse is rampant: “It is happening right now. It is happening in families. We know it is happening in churches, and in schools and sports teams everywhere.”
Winfrey isn’t wrong. Nonetheless, the suffering of 1,000 children should concern us more than the suffering of one or two children, but it does not. This is why fundraising campaigns normally focus on one child suffering as opposed to many. It has a much stronger emotional pull.
Psychologists refer to this as the identifiable victim effect. People are willing to aid identifiable victims much more than unidentifiable or statistical victims. We are also more willing to provide aid when one person is suffering, but our willingness decreases as you add more people. We cannot seem to process mass suffering.
One study I conducted with two colleagues explored the impact of the 2009 news coverage of Evan Frustaglio, a seemingly healthy 13-year-old boy living in Toronto who died of the influenza virus H1N1. After his photo and story was featured prominently in the news, media coverage of H1N1 more than doubled in the month following his death.
Despite a massive effort by government to encourage people to get vaccinated, polling data in the period immediately preceding Frustalgio’s death showed a decreased interest in getting the vaccine. Immediately after Frustaglio’s death, demand surged and parents rushed their children to clinics across Canada, standing in massive lineups.
In 2015, the image of Alan Kurdi, a three-year old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach, focused international attention on the war in Syria, which had been occurring for years.
The circulation of Kurdi’s image, taken by photojournalist Nilüfer Demir, through the news media prompted the Western public to put pressure on their governments to expedite the process for those seeking refugee status. In this way, a single photo changed the lives of thousands.
The identifiable victim effect allows us to react strongly to individual suffering, like the experiences of Alan Kurdi and Evan Frustaglio, or the ones recounted in Leaving Neverland, but it also allows us to distance ourselves from mass suffering.
The United Nations has reported that 723,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar, many of whom are children. These children are subject to disease outbreaks, malnutrition, physical danger and sexualized violence. UN Secretary General António Guterres has described the situation as “catastrophic.” Bob Rae, Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar, broke down at a parliamentary committee over the plight of the children.
But progress has been slow and uneven in Myanmar.
Although child sex abuse has been trending downward in Canada since the early 1990s, the numbers remain high: according to Statistics Canada, in 2012 there were approximately 14,000 children and youth who were victims of sexual abuse in Canada; that is, 205 victims for every 100,000 children.
The way media translates statistical and unidentifiable victims into stories can help to humanize the victims and motivate action. The action must be underpinned by an understanding of the magnitude of the problem, fair and just laws and moral intent, at home and abroad.
Kevin Ebert MBA(FS) Class of 2014 sent in a question to Dr. Rick Nason:
“Major FI’s around the world currently see Canadian consumers being massively over-levered and the Toronto/Vancouver housing markets as ‘bubble-concerns’. Viewed another way: Consumer spending, via low interest rate credit, has been the ‘fuel’ for Canada’s economic performance and GDP growth. What advice would you give MBAs currently leading Canadian-domiciled companies, looking to maximize growth & opportunity, while minimizing risk/exposure to these issues?” Kevin Ebert MBA(FS)
In the fifth installment of striving for success in 2019, Dr. Rick Nason discusses consumer spending, economic performance and GDP growth.
Dr. Rick Nason:
Consumer spending is the only engine behind GDP. If consumers do not buy anything, then businesses don’t make things, which in turn means that businesses don’t buy anything, and so on into the box top of the classic box of Moirs chocolates. So, we cannot put the blame on consumers.
Having said that, Canadian consumers are arguably over-leveraged. However, we have also been, in my humble opinion, coasting on a variety of made-in-Canada factors for a very long period of time. I won’t go into the specific factors that I believe we have been coasting under for fear of this being labeled a political blog. I am sure that the reader can make their own list.
As Canadians we are incredibly lucky. We have a relatively stable and responsible government (my comment in the previous paragraph notwithstanding), we have an embarrassment of natural resources, and we have, for the most part, a suitable climate. What this has produced is a corporate culture that has become fat and lazy; despite our daily machinations about working such long and hard hours. Of course, some of us (ahem ahem) have literally got fat and lazy, but we will leave my personal state of affairs out of this blog.
I believe that there are two short and simple responses to your question. The first is to stop thinking that you are a Canadian company. Yes, take the advantages that being Canadian provides you, but take those advantages and learn to play on the world stage. Yes, that means that you need to leave behind some of the Canadian advantages, such as protectionism, behind. But wake up, we are a big country with not many people. As the rest of the world develops, it is learning to do more with less, and on a much larger scale of people, and yes, that includes a much larger base of consumer spending. That means that the rest of the world is developing experience at scale. We do not have the scale, and to get it you must go out and think and behave globally.
Leaving your familiar backyard is scary. I remember leaving my neighbourhood when I was approximately 10 years old with a group of my friends to play a street hockey game against a neighbourhood on the other side of the town that none of us had ever been to. It felt as if we were taking a trip to the moon. It sounds silly, but I think that is what many Canadian companies still feel. Admittedly, as Canadians we have one heck of a nice neighbourhood, but how are you to develop your street hockey skills unless you get out there and test your skills, and learn new skills from other neighbourhoods? (Hope you appreciate my Canadian spelling of “neighbourhood” in this paragraph and the home-grown theme of street-hockey.)
The second, and related solution is to compete! compete! compete! Except for hockey, and perhaps only women’s hockey at that, we have forgotten about how to compete. (Okay – time to break the no politics rule.) Take for instance interprovincial trade. We don’t even want to compete interprovincially! Historically, there were arguably some valid reasons to prevent too much competition. Unfortunately, that is now being laughed at by the rest of the world (although one prominent figure with arguably worse hair than mine – although I have undisputedly the more natural complexion – is making a mockery of international trade and competition for the moment.)
Since you brought it up, Canadian financial institutions, in particular, have forgotten how to compete for the simple reason that they never needed to. Retail Canadians, and corporate Canada for that matter, are notoriously sticky consumers of financial institutions. We pick our financial institutions based on proximity, and the only time we change is when we change our neighbourhood – and even then, we keep our old accounts going. Canadian financial institutions constitute a classic oligopoly.
I love Canada. If you slit my wrists, instead of red and white blood cells you get Maple leaves, hockey pucks, and whatever crap the pulp mill in my neighbourhood was spitting out the day that I was born. However, I got most of my post-secondary education south of the border, and spent most of my non-academic career south of the border. The difference in the willingness to compete, in both academia, and in business continues to astonish and annoy me. We are a wonderful and blessed country, but if you want GDP growth (we can argue whether that is a worthy goal or not), we gotta step outside the neighbourhood and compete.
 For those of a too tender age who did not get the reference, do an internet search for vintage Moirs Pot of Gold Chocolate box
“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”
The English language is full of phrases — from “bogged down” to “feet of clay” and “dirt cheap” — that reflect how we appreciate the diversity of soil, but value it little.
Soil retains a special place in many cultures. In Ireland, where I grew up, patches of what is known as “hungry ground” are thought to retain the memory of the Irish Famine in the 1800s, and you are advised to carry bread while you cross them. To poet Patrick Kavanagh, the clay of soils sealed the hopeless fate of lonely Irish bachelor farmers:
But is soil valueless like dirt or replete with mystery? Is it just dirt, or a cathedral of evolutionary and cultural memory? Like an elder among us, soil holds records of our planet’s past and the possibilities of its future sustainability.
Like a library, soil houses stories written from the microscopic to the landscape scale of human and evolutionary history. Our enormous recent impacts, from the global nitrogen cycle to our use of atomic weapons, can be read as elemental and isotopic traces in soil.
One quarter of all the world’s biodiversity can be found in soil; it is where many plants, bacteria and fungi evolved together. In many cases, plants and soil microbes established mutually beneficial relationships, communicating with each other by sending signals through the soil in a complex dating game. Butterflies and beetles and some bees, too, evolved to need the soil for certain stages of their life cycle.
Soil also remembers its natural vegetation — as seeds that can be used to help restore the native plant diversity and ecosystem, even in an urban lawn setting. For plants, the memory of their interaction with soil microbes may even be transmitted to their offspring.
In our urgent search for solutions to climate change, we have realized soils are key to turning back the carbon clock and reversing CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere. Thus we are recognizing soils as far more than just an anchor for growing plants, but as the irreplaceable “skin of the Earth” providing economic, environmental and social services that are essential for life.
Now more than ever, the science of soil reflects this appreciation of soil’s keystone role in preserving biodiversity, reversing climate change and sustaining life on Earth.
The history of soil science has often been a story of international collaboration, including the recent production of a global soil carbon map and an atlas of soil biodiversity, both wonderful examples of important global advances in soil science.
Rapid advances in application of molecular techniques are helping us understand in much greater detail the relationships between soil organisms and the many essential functions they perform. Importantly, too, we are learning much more about soil’s resilience, such as how it responds to, and may recover from, the stresses imposed by human activities or a changing climate.
We are learning more about the services provided by soils in cities, and the unique stresses imposed upon them. According to Canadian soil scientist Henry Janzen, a fundamental goal of soil science and key to global sustainability is to extract the memories hidden in soil.
Intensive farming systems are a major driver of land degradation and soil losses, and declines in the abundance and diversity of animals and plants. Applying our improved understanding of soil, an urgent challenge is to develop and support farming systems that are sustainable ecologically while also providing humanity sufficient supplies of food and fibre.
Farmers, as land managers, are on the front lines of this challenge. Many take an agro-ecological approach and consider themselves stewards or caretakers of plant diversity and the soil as much as solely producers of crops.
For example, farmers who plant mixtures of flowering cover crops (buckwheat, phacelia, sweet clover, vetch etc.) benefit pollinators. The crop also protects the soil by keeping it covered over winter. As it decomposes, the abundant cover crop residue improves the soil’s structure and biological activity, while releasing nutrients to the following cash crop.
We need to cherish and learn from soil now more than ever. It holds the keys to our planet’s past and future.
“The School of Information Management is taking academic research into the workplace because it matters to society. Sharing and exchanging information creates strong and resilient communities.”
Dr. Bertrum MacDonald, Professor, School of Information Management
The year 2019 heralds another Dalhousie milestone. The School of Information Management will commemorate its 50th anniversary. Our sister blog, INFORM, will be featuring the event in the coming months. We highly recommend a visit to this exciting virtual space.
“Information is what we are all about. We are passionate about data management, information literacy, accessibility, preservation, connecting communities and many more current information topics. This blog is a reflection of that passion: Stories from our community of innovative information managers who are turning their knowledge into action, within Dalhousie and beyond.” INFORM
CEGE Connection reached out to Dr. Bertrum MacDonald, Professor, School of Information Management, to share his thoughts on reaching the 50th year mark, given the ever-increasing influence of information management within our society.
Dr. Bertrum MacDonald:
I have been a faculty member in the School of Information Management for many years (more than half of the 50 that the School will celebrate in 2019!). During this period, I have served as Director of the School, then Associate Dean (Research) in the wider Faculty of Management, and recently for a short term as Interim Dean of the Faculty. I have taught courses in the Master of Information Management since it was launched in 2008, beginning with the first course offered in the program (Information, People, and Society). My primary research area focuses on questions about information use and influence in marine management and policy development. I head the interdisciplinary Environmental Information: Use and Influence Research Program based in the School of Information Management.
Tell us a little about the Master of Information Management Program:
In both focus and delivery, the Master of Information Management program (MIM) is unique in Canada. Dalhousie was the first university to offer such a graduate degree and remains the leader in this area. The diversity of students who are currently studying for or have completed the MIM is a definite strength of the program. Students in various lines of work (public, private, and not-for-profit) have used their MIM studies to leverage career advancement within their place of work and to successfully pursue new employment prospects. The students benefit from the flexibility of the blended delivery mechanism. The face-to-face intensive courses are especially notable for vibrant debate and exchange of ideas, discussion of professional practices, and consideration of solutions for information management issues. Every course offers insights that students can apply immediately or very quickly in their work.
What are the main objectives and outcomes you want to student to get take away from the capstone course?
The capstone course was designed to promote integration of the learning outcomes from all other courses students complete in the MIM. The focus is a research project related to the student’s place of work. As a strong advocate for using evidence to support management decisions, I believe that the capstone course offers students an excellent opportunity to develop and hone skills and understanding about the necessity of carefully considering a management issue or problem so that the research delivers meaningful and usable results.
How do you prepare students to take on this research project?
Much of the preparation for the research project occurs in other courses that the students complete. The topic may have been initially explored previously, e.g., in a review of literature on the subject, or considered in cases discussed in Intensive sessions. Before registering for the capstone course, students must have completed either the Research Methods or Program Evaluation courses where they are introduced to concepts and methods for establishing a focus for a project as well as options for data collection and analysis. In many instances, I have met with students in advance of beginning the capstone course to discuss their ideas and plans, especially about how to set the scope of a “doable” project.
Tell us about the project submissions: kinds of project, subject areas, the process, the application to the workplace.
The topics vary widely, reflecting the diversity of the students’ workplaces as well as the issues they deal with daily. During the Winter 2018 and Winter 2019 course offerings, for example, students investigated social media practices of school children and their parents, the potential use of a conversational bot in an information call centre, whether user experience could improve a business intelligence strategy, the merits of using incentives and rewards for information governance outcomes, the information skills and knowledge required in security and intelligence work, the effectiveness of redaction processes of files processed by a criminal court, and how information is used to build organizational identity, among several other very interesting subjects.
The School of Information Management is taking academic research into the workplace because it matters to society. Sharing and exchanging information creates strong and resilient communities.
“The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.”
Hectic mornings of rushing around packing school lunches for kids could actually become a thing of the past for Canadian parents.
In the recent federal budget, Canada has finally declared its intention to work towards a national school food program with the provinces and territories.
The pledge is embedded in the new national food policy, although the government has not yet committed any funds for the program.
As researchers focused on student nutrition, wellness and national and provincial food policy, we see a national school food program is a no-brainer.
Food at school can improve children’s health and academic outcomes while creating economic opportunities for local, sustainable agriculture. To ensure this, however, the federal government needs to establish food procurement criteria and regulations to protect against corporate food and beverage from gaining entry into schools.
In many countries, parents’ main focus in the morning is getting their kids out of the door on time because schools handle lunch as part of a larger health, education and economic strategy.
In France, school lunches are part of the school day, not a break from it. Children are served a four-course meal while sitting at a group table with a supervisor who teaches them about nutrition, healthy eating and table manners.
In Italy, school meals are locally sourced and certified organic, with special meals provided for children with food allergies, intolerances and religious restrictions. School lunch menus are sent home on a weekly basis to help parents avoid overlap at home.
In Japan, where food education is mandated by law, lunches are cooked in school. In an effort to reinforce a culture of self-sufficiency students serve one another and when lunch is done everyone helps clean up.
In Brazil, school food is part of a national and comprehensive food strategy that integrates education, agriculture, health and food security while supporting family farming.
The last time the federal government seriously discussed implementing a national school food program was during the Second World War when the government rejected a school lunch program. Instead, Canada decided to provide a family allowance designed to ensure families had enough income to buy food for their children.
Since then, the pervasiveness of diet-related diseases among children may make today’s youth the first generation to have sicker, shorter lives than their parents as found by a House of Commons standing committee on health in 2007.
Children spend a considerable amount of time at school for well over a decade of their lives, so schools are the ideal medium for fostering and reinforcing a lifetime of healthy eating habits. Preventing chronic diseases through improving nutrition among children and youth should, therefore, be a priority.
A national, health-promoting school food program is essential for Canada. With adequate funding and national standards, it can be the powerful health-promotion program needed to reverse our current health crisis that spans socio-economic divides.
Most provinces in Canada have some form of a school food program (breakfast, snack and to a lesser degree lunch), but the type of program and quality of food served varies across the country. Existing programs largely rely on charitable funding because if there is any provincial and municipal support, it often only covers a fraction of the cost.
A national research team that my co-author was part of recommended six key characteristics to guide a national school food program in Canada. Such a program would be:
1. Universal and offered to all students at no cost or subsidized cost, and administered in a non-stigmatizing manner.
2. Health Promoting, thereby focused on providing whole foods, specifically vegetables and fruits.
3. Respectful of local conditions and needs, serving culturally appropriate foods.
4. Connected to communities, supporting local food producers when possible.
5. Multi-Component and integrated with curricula to incorporate nutrition education and hands-on food preparation for the development of food skills.
6. Sustainable and so receiving ongoing funding, staffing and training along with regular monitoring and evaluation.
A national school food program isn’t just an expense; it’s an economic opportunity. Internationally, school food programs have an impressive return on investment — three dollars to $10 for every dollar invested — including the creation of new jobs.
School food could also be a fruitful emerging economic activity in Canada as it is in the United States as my research aims to show. Canada would have the chance to develop a made-in-Canada school food economic growth strategy, akin to what Brazil or Italy has pursued.
The economic burden and preventable cost of nutrition-related disease in Canada is estimated at $13.8 billion annually. Treating chronic disease already consumes an alarming 67 per cent of all direct health care spending. Such expenditure levels could cripple Canada’s universal health care system. Yet, over 30,000 deaths could be averted or delayed annually if our diets complied with dietary recommendations, particularly for eating more fruit and vegetables.
Right now, more than 3,200 signatures have been put to a petition to the Minister of Health for the implementation of a universal healthy school food program whose cost is shared with the federal government.
This is an official e-petition to the House of Commons — that means it was made available online on the House of Commons website after it was introduced to Parliament by MP Julie Dabrusin on behalf of Debbie Field, co-ordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food.
The promise of a national school food program is an important step forward for Canada. The provision of adequate funding will ensure that it benefits all Canadian children.
An investment in a national school food program is an investment in children today and the leaders of tomorrow.
Amberley T. Ruetz, PhD Candidate in Geography and Arrell Food Scholar, University of Guelph and Sara FL Kirk, Professor of Health Promotion; Scientific Director of the Healthy Populations Institute, Dalhousie University
Craig Macklin MBA(FS) Class of 2014 sent in a question to Dr. Rick Nason:
“I’ve taken a position of continually considering the changing global business environment as a way to remove complacency in my strategies when improving a company’s results…what are the 2-3 most important elements you see globally, that company leaders should pay attention to so that they can start getting comfortable being uncomfortable, especially in the face of the looming recession?” Craig Macklin MBA(FS)
In the fourth installment of striving for success in 2019, Dr. Rick Nason discusses the changing global business environment, getting comfortable being uncomfortable and removing complacency in strategic thinking.
Dr. Rick Nason:
Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is likely to be a phenomenon of the 20’s; the 2020’s that is. The pace of globalization, the pace of AI and Big Data, and the pace of FinTech, HealthTech, RegTech, PersonTech, WhateverTech, combined with a demographic shift in the workforce that has not been experienced since the end of the Second World War will mean that the role and responsibilities of the manager are going to be altered like never before.
Trying to fight the onset of these forces facing the manager is a Sisyphean task. I believe that we are already experiencing the less than optimal individual managerial actions of a cohort nearing retirement who are striving to make their methods that worked in the 1980’s and 90’s effective today. This is for an age when the seemingly inexperienced millennium upstarts, with nothing more than gumption, upset another industry on an almost daily basis. It is a phenomenon that I call the “constipated middle”. That is, it is the group of relatively senior managers who are hanging on to a world that no longer exists in hopes that they can make it to retirement without being exposed. By the way, the same effect is true for those who are relying on their credentials for success, regardless of age or experience.
If you have ever been in one of my classes, or heard one of my seminars, then you know that one of my favorite quotes comes from philosopher Eric Hoffer. He stated, “In time of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists”. You need to select whether you will be learned, or a learner. Unfortunately, and ironically, as academics, we focus on being learned, despite our proclamations that we are institutions of higher learning. The evidence is clear; our focus on rubrics (please, shoot me now!), multiple choice tests, objectivity in marking, tests designed for computer marking, etc… This is reinforced with our emphasis on credentials; gotta get more letters behind my name to be competitive (and so I can be picked by the HR computer filters for a promotion)!
The first rule of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is to be a learner. Learn broadly. Learn creatively. Learn diversely. One of my favorite techniques when I am faced with a problem, is to go to the bookstore and buy the three magazines on topics or areas that I know nothing about and have zero previous interest in. Going into places you have never gone before not only works for StarTrek fans, but also for your ability to learn, to be creative, and to develop your dots. Managers would be much better off if they would only spend as much time and effort on their network of learning as they do on their professional networking and building their social media profile.
Being comfortable with being uncomfortable means you need to develop the skill of learning. However, this is much more than knowing stuff. Knowing stuff is a commodity; hey Alexa, what’s … ? Knowing stuff is an almost valueless commodity today with not only the developments in AI, but also the ready access to AI. The new learner doesn’t source knowledge but connects knowledge. The manager who can connect the most dots, as well as the most diverse dots, is the manager with the competitive advantage. The person who knows stuff is being replaced by a bot, or someone with a decent internet connection in an emerging economy who is willing to put in the effort to know more stuff, more efficiently, and to do it for less than you spend on coffee in a day.
What is left after AI takes away knowledge is empathy. Rita McGrath, a Columbia University professor, wrote a short Harvard Business Review article titled “Management’s Three Eras: A Brief History”. In this paradigm shifting article, she talks about how management was first about technology; how do manufacture a pin most efficiently. Then came scientific management and Taylorism; how do we optimize the assembly line. The third era, the era we are coming into, she labels the “era of empathy”, and I agree with her. Empathy is nothing more than understanding people; and I stress that empathy is not sympathy or pity. Empathy is understanding why people think and act as they do. Empathy does not mean that you agree with them.
In a related, but tangential theme, Geoff Colvin’s book “Humans are Underrated”, states that many professionals mistakenly try to fight the onset of the bots by asking: “what is it that I can do that a computer, or a bot cannot do?” Colvin’s answer is nothing! He states that the better question to ask is: “what is it that I can do that people do not want or will not allow a computer, or a bot to do?” I think he is on to something. What is left after AI takes the basic knowledge component is relationships, and I don’t mean relationships of the swipe left or right variety.
I would be remiss, as well as hypocritical if I did not mention the importance of complexity. I believe that all of the above is wrapped up in complexity. The manager of the 20’s needs to understand and appreciate complexity. That is a different set of skills, and a different set of attributes than we normally associate with management. Our management paradigms, as well as our educational paradigms, both in business education, and general education, have almost completely ignored complexity. I believe that complexity knowledge is the killer app for managers. I have a recommended reading on complexity if anyone is interested.
Ultimately being comfortable with being uncomfortable is being comfortable with being a human being, rather than some stereotype that the media and business schools give us of the business leader. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable requires humility, self-esteem, and a thrill and lust for the challenge. That’s what makes being a manager fun!
 McGarth, Rita, “Management’s Three Eras: A Brief History”, Harvard Business Review, July 30, 2014, https://hbr.org/2014/07/managements-three-eras-a-brief-history
 Colvin, Geoff, “Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will”, Portfolio, 2016
“This day is really a reminder that we are all connected by this big blue world. There is one ocean that connects us all and requires us to work together to take responsibility for our choices and preserve our ocean.”
Jenny Weitzman MMM
Jenny Weitzman, Masters of Marine Management (MMM), is currently pursuing her doctorate in the Marine Affairs Program in Dalhousie University’s Interdisciplinary PhD Program. Her PhD research focuses on developing an integrated framework to inform decision-making and planning that places salmon aquaculture within the safe operating limits of the combined natural, social and economic environment. Passionate about how science and information are communicated to various audiences, her research interests revolve around issues at the science-policy interface, including aquaculture and fisheries management, sustainable seafood, environmental impact assessment, and marine and resource policy.
World Oceans Day is celebrated annually on the 8th of June. This idea was first proposed by Canada’s International Centre for Ocean Development (ICOD) and the Ocean Institute of Canada (OIC) at the 1992 Earth Summit – UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
CEGE Connection reached out to Jenny Weitzman to discuss the importance of celebrating and honouring the ocean.
Jenny Weitzman: Why is World Oceans Day important?
The oceans are critical to our continued life on this planet. More than half of the oxygen we breathe comes from tiny plants in the ocean. These tiny plants form the basis for the seafood we enjoy and are the primary source of protein for around 3 billion people worldwide. The massive currents that flow throughout our oceans also help control weather and regulate climate.
On June 8, we celebrate World Oceans Day. This day, we share what we love about the ocean and what it means to us. Approximately 40% of people in the world live within one-hour drive (100km) to a coast, and many more rely on the ocean directly for their livelihoods. Whether it was the beach, the beloved lobster roll, or the charismatic whales and turtles that drew us to the sea, we all have some connection to the ocean.
The oceans are dynamic and powerful yet are not invincible. The problems we face in today’s climate are global and require all of us to work together to solve. What we do, whether we live near the ocean or not, affects the ocean through our seafood choices, our plastic consumption, and fossil fuel burning. These pressures can often have the greatest impact on small coastal communities in developing nations that do not always have the capacity to deal with the scale and severity of these issues.
This day is really a reminder that we are all connected by this big blue world. There is one ocean that connects us all and requires us to work together to take responsibility for our choices and preserve our ocean.
June 8, 2019
Thank you to the Government of Canada for proposing the concept of a World Ocean Day, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 2002, when The Ocean Project began to globally promote and coordinate World Oceans Day development and activities, there were only a handful of events in a few countries. Now, there are thousands of events in over 120 countries and a social media reach into the several billions.