What is
World Oceans Day?

What is World Oceans Day?

The United Nations celebrates World Oceans Day every year on 8 June. For 2024, the celebration will be held on Friday, 7 June. Many countries have celebrated this special day since 1992, following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro.

World Oceans Day is 8 June

In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as of 2009, 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day”.

... for all generations

On this day, we have an opportunity to raise global awareness of the benefits humankind derives from the ocean and our individual and collective duty to use its resources sustainably. Future generations will also depend on the oceans for their livelihoods.

... for all people

Civil society, science centers, research institutions, NGOs, businesses in the private and financial sector, communities and governments all around the world mobilize millions of people around local and global events.

... and for the planet

Together with the United Nations and our partners, we celebrate all that the ocean gives us every day: from the oxygen we breathe to the inspiration that moves our poets.

Brief History


Declaration of Oceans Day

Oceans Day was first declared as 8 June, 1992 in Rio de Janeiro at the Global Forum, a parallel event at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which provided an opportunity for non-government organizations (NGOs) and civil society to express their views on environmental issues.

The Declaration was inspired by an event organized on that day by the Oceans Institute of Canada and supported by the Canadian Government: “OCEANS DAY AT GLOBAL FORUM – THE BLUE PLANET”. The programme featured international experts, opinion leaders and those in a position to speak for the oceans’ contributions to sustaining the Blue Planet.
Read more about how Judith Swan initated World Oceans Day here.


UN Designation of World Oceans Day

In 2008, led by Canada, the General Assembly resolved that 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day”. (General Assembly resolution 63/111)

In the interim, observation of Oceans Day had broadened and deepened. The need and scope for this was reflected in the broad range of concerns expressed in 2008 by the UN Secretary-General, including implementation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, maritime space, international shipping, maritime security, marine science and technology, marine biological diversity, the marine environment and sustainable development, climate change and regional and international cooperation. The awareness and action spurred by observation of World Oceans Day would be crucial in all these areas.


First United Nations World Oceans Day Observed

The theme of the inaugural observance of World Oceans Day by the United Nations in 2009 was ‘Our Oceans, Our Responsibility’. “The first observance of World Oceans Day allows us to highlight the many ways in which oceans contribute to society. It is also an opportunity to recognize the considerable challenges we face in maintaining their capacity to regulate the global climate, supply essential ecosystem services and provide sustainable livelihoods and safe recreation.” – then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon


United Nations 
Ocean Conference & World Oceans Day

The Declaration of World Oceans Day in 2008 catalysed action worldwide. Twenty-five years after the first Oceans Day took place in Rio de Janeiro at UNCED, a special event on 8 June marked its celebration during the United Nations Ocean Conference held from 5-9 June 2017. The Ocean Conference was convened to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)14 in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.


First Virtual United Nations World Oceans Day Event

While traditionally an event held at the UN HQ in NYC, due to COVID-19 the United Nations World Oceans Day 2020 was the first ever digital rendition, accessible to the global public.


First Hybrid United Nations World Oceans Day Event

The United Nations World Oceans Day 2022 was the first-ever hybrid celebration of the annual event, featuring both in-person programming hosted at UN HQ in NYC and virtual components for global public accessibility.


Celebrating 10 Years: The Photo Competition for UN WOD

The 2023 exhibition at the UN HQ in New York showcased winning images from the past decade since the competition’s inception.


Awaken New Depths

2024 Event Date: 7 June
Join us on 7 June as we awaken new depths of understanding, compassion, collaboration and commitment for the ocean.

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Every year the United Nations selects a theme for World Oceans Day to engage the global community around key ocean topics.

2024 Theme

Awaken New Depths

Our relationship to the ocean needs to urgently change, and our efforts have only skimmed the surface to date. To motivate widespread momentum for the ocean, we need to awaken new depths.

Past Themes

Discover our past themes:

  • 2023: “Planet Ocean: Tides Are Changing”
  • 2022: “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean”
  • 2021: “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods”
  • 2020: “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”

Friends of United Nations World Oceans Day

The Friends of United Nations World Oceans Day (FOWOD) is an informal community of individuals and organizations active in the field of ocean affairs and support the United Nations World Oceans Day (UNWOD), 8 June, and related activities.

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