From Corfu to The UN World Oceans Day in New York

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Giovanni Prete,

Leader of All For Blue Corfu Team

From the sun-kissed, pristine beaches of Corfu, I had the privilege of attending the highly anticipated UN World Oceans Day held at the iconic United Nations Headquarters in the heart of New York City. The event with the theme ‘’Tides Are Changing’’ was nothing short of awe-inspiring, with a lineup of distinguished speakers and activists who shared their deep commitment to preserving and restoring the world’s oceans. From celebrities to environmental leaders, Indigenous representatives to esteemed scientists, the day was a powerful reminder of the urgent need to protect our oceans for current and future generations. The mesmerizing city of New York welcomed me with open arms as I embarked on a journey that would forever change my perspective on ocean conservation and the critical need to protect our planet’s most vital resource.

Growing up on the idyllic island of Corfu, my world was painted with the hues of the ocean. The idea of attending such a global event in the heart of the biggest city in the world was beyond imagination. Yet, there I stood among ocean advocates and leaders, bridging the gap between my island roots and the broader world’s call for ocean conservation. The experience was a testament to the transformative power of seizing opportunities, no matter how remote they may seem, and a reminder that even from the smallest corners of the world, we can contribute to meaningful change on a global scale.

A Star-Studded Lineup of Speakers

The 2023 UN World Oceans Day was graced by a prestigious group of individuals, each contributing their unique insights and expertise to the global conversation on ocean conservation. From Hollywood heartthrobs to scientists, the event showcased the diverse perspectives necessary to tackle the complex challenges facing our oceans.
One of the highlights of the day was the charismatic Lucas Bravo, the lead actor of the Netflix hit show ‘Emily in Paris’, whose passionate speech about the ocean’s fragility and the responsibility of the entertainment industry in protecting it, left the audience deeply moved. His call for collective action emphasized that change begins with each individual, reinforcing the idea that every small effort contributes to the greater cause.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered a powerful message about the urgent need for countries to collaborate in protecting the oceans. His words carried a sense of urgency, urging governments and organizations worldwide to commit to more sustainable practices and policies.


Finally, Jason Momoa, known not only for his role as Cinema’s biggest ocean icon, ‘Aquaman’, but also his commitment to ocean advocacy, delivered a powerful message in which he shared his personal connection to the ocean and his determination to inspire a new generation of ocean advocates.

Indigenous Wisdom and Leadership

The event also provided a platform for Indigenous leaders to share their traditional wisdom and experiences in preserving marine ecosystems. Whaia and Mpume Mthombeni, representing Indigenous communities, offered profound insights into the deep spiritual connection their people have with the sea. Whaia, in a mesmerizing performance, skillfully intertwined traditional instruments and hauntingly beautiful chants, creating an ethereal soundscape that transported the audience to the depths of the sea. This auditory journey served as a poignant reminder that the preservation of our oceans is deeply intertwined with cultural heritage, artistic expression, and respect for nature.

Ocean Experts and Visionaries

Among the distinguished lineup of speakers, the presence of ocean explorer Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, resonated deeply, evoking a sense of reverence for her lifelong dedication to ocean conservation. With a career spanning decades and numerous groundbreaking expeditions, Sylvia Earle’s words carried both the weight of experience and the urgency to start restoring our oceans.
As she took the stage, the room seemed to hush in anticipation, eager to absorb the wisdom she had to share. Sylvia’s passionate voice echoed through the General Assembly Hall as she addressed a pressing concern that has increasingly gripped the hearts and minds of individuals and corporations: we have no time left.
With a blend of scientific authority and passionate advocacy, Sylvia underscored the critical need for corporations to take an active role in safeguarding the oceans that sustain us all. She eloquently highlighted how our oceans are not only a source of immeasurable biodiversity but also vital regulators of our climate systems. Her remarks drew attention to the inextricable link between healthy oceans and a stable, thriving planet.

In a tone both sobering and motivational, Sylvia rightly warned that time is running out. Her words painted a vivid picture of the escalating threats facing our oceans, from plastic pollution choking marine life to the devastating impacts of overfishing and habitat destruction. She stressed that the window for action is rapidly closing and that we are at a critical juncture where every decision, every effort, and every partnership matters.
Ray Dalio, a prominent philanthropist and founder of OceanX, joined Sylvia in an important conversation emphasizing the economic significance of oceans and the potential benefits of sustainable ocean practices. His business-minded approach highlighted the immense potential for innovation and positive change in ocean conservation.
Finally, Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the legendary sea explorer Jacques Cousteau, brought a sense of legacy to the event. His commitment to carrying forward his family’s mission of ocean exploration and protection was truly inspiring, reflecting the enduring impact of generations of ocean advocates. Following his speech, Titouan Bernicot, founder of Coral Gardeners, took on the stage bringing the tropical energy of Tahiti to discuss the urgency to restore the world’s coral reefs.

An Atmosphere of Shared Purpose

After the speeches concluded, an atmosphere of shared purpose filled the room, as attendees had the invaluable opportunity to interact with the remarkable individuals who had graced the stage. Conversations flowed freely, bridging the gaps between diverse backgrounds and experiences, united by a common passion for ocean conservation. Engaging with celebrities, influencers, diplomats and Indigenous leaders, created an atmosphere of connection that transcended the boundaries of geography and status. These post-speech interactions further underscored the event’s essence: that the fight for our oceans is a collective effort, fueled by the strength of collaboration and the spirit of those determined to create a better world for both present and future generations.

More Committed Than Ever to Lead the All For Blue Corfu Team

The 2023 UN World Oceans Day at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City was an unforgettable experience that left me inspired, enlightened, and deeply motivated to contribute to the well-being of our oceans. The event showcased the power of collective action, the importance of diverse perspectives, and the unwavering dedication of individuals and organizations striving to protect our planet’s most precious resource.
As I left the event with a renewed sense of purpose, I felt empowered to join the global movement working tirelessly to ensure a sustainable future for our oceans and generations to come. Armed with this newfound inspiration, I am more committed than ever to lead the All For Blue Corfu Team in our mission to clean the coasts and seas of Corfu through beach and underwater cleanups. Through these hands-on efforts, we will continue to translate passion into action, fostering a tangible difference in our local community while contributing to the global mission of ocean conservation. The sense of change initiated at the UN World Oceans Day will continue to live on in Corfu, reminding us that even from our small Greek island, we can make waves that resonate far beyond our shores.



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