2019 European elections: let’s raise our voices for the ocean!

, by Surfrider Foundation Europe, Translated by Lorène Weber

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

2019 European elections: let's raise our voices for the ocean!

Nine months ahead of the European elections, the Surfrider Foundation Europe is leading an important citizens’ consultation: ‘Voice for the Ocean’. Its goal is simple: while only 42,6% of the European citizens went to the polls for the 2014 European elections, Surfrider wants to mobilise all European citizens for this democratic occasion too often forgotten, and put the ocean and its protection at the heart of the debates.

Voice for the Ocean: make the citizens’ voice heard at the European level

2019 will be a crucial year for oceans’ future: a new European Parliament will be elected, and a new European Commission will take office. With ‘Voice for the Ocean’, Surfrider commits to defending the citizens’ preoccupations in front of the candidates to the 2019 European elections. “The ocean’s future is also decided at the European Parliament! That’s why we believe in the necessity to connect the European citizens, the ocean’s lovers and the political sphere together, to be able to discuss, progress and protect the ocean”, explains Antidia Citores, in charge of lobbying for Surfrider.

If the European policy could be more ambitious concerning the fight against pollution, it tends to improve in terms of fight against marine waste. At the adoption of its strategy on plastic waste, the European Commission proposed a Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. It foresees measures targeting ten single-use plastic products which represent most of plastic waste that we find on beaches. The text especially encourages to reduce the consumption of food containers and drinks cups, foreseeing the prohibition of some items for which alternatives exist, such as cotton buds, straws, drinks stirrers, cutlery and plates, and compelling the member states to reinforce the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes as well as to maximise the collection of plastic bottles. However, this Directive does not foresee a quantified target and does not commit to measures of prevention and reduction at the root of this waste. Recycling is not enough to respond to the plastic pollution crisis.

The European elections will be decisive and will determine the direction of EU commitments regarding ocean protection. Let’s make the ocean’s voice heard!

An online platform…

Every citizen can access an online platform to know, understand and respond to the issues that weigh upon the ocean. Surfrider Foundation Europe wants to consult the citizens on eight priorities for the ocean: water quality, plastic pollution, marine transport, sustainable tourism, offshore platforms, renewable marine energies, climate change, and sharing knowledge on the ocean. On the basis of this consultation’s results, Surfrider Foundation Europe will challenge each political party running at the European elections to include measures of ocean protection in their programmes. Together, we can put ocean protection at the heart of the political debate: every voice counts!

… coupled with a European tour to meet EU citizens!

In addition to this online consultation, Surfrider goes on tour! The NGO will meet different audiences: students, committed citizens, scientists, elected representatives (local, national, European) etc., as well as many actors involved in ocean protection, and for whom it will be possible to inform, discuss and express. The first stage happened in Burgas, Bulgaria, during the European Maritime Days, on 1 June. This was the occasion for Surfrider to officially reveal this new campaign and to reassert its commitment to make the ocean a central political question. In partnership with UNESCO, Voice for the Ocean was in Paris on 5 June: 200 students attended an expert conference on micro-plastics.

In September, several important moments for the campaign took place in France: a talk-show in an alternative space (‘Le Consulat’), a conference at the French National Assembly and a civic dialogue at the Representation of the European Commission in Paris. In October, Voice for the Ocean and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) gathered ministries, MEPs and French and Spanish experts in Malaga, Spain to talk about the ecological transition in tourism and maritime transport. In November, the last stage will take place in Porto where two days will be dedicated to adaptation to climate change and water quality, two issues whose effects are felt in Portugal. Experts, elected representatives and citizens will be expected to express their positions and propositions. With this European tour, the consultation ‘Voice for the Ocean’ gains importance and involves faces in the campaign!

A voice for the Ocean

The ocean feeds us, heals us and inspires us… We need it as much as it needs us. It is a source of life: lung of our planet, we owe it one breathing out of two! Today, our ocean is faced with serious threats linked to pollution, waste, the extinction of some species, and the multiple impacts of climate change. The ocean has no borders, and neither does the impact of the decisions concerning sea pollution, climate change, tourism and maritime transport. With ‘Voice for the Ocean’, Surfrider addresses the whole European community, the citizens must express themselves for measures to be taken for ocean protection! You have understood it, Surfrider counts on your voice to give weight to this consultation and challenge the future MEPs to put the ocean in their priorities. It is time to give a voice for the ocean!

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