From 2004-2008, The Ocean Project and World Ocean Network and our partner organizations around the world, created and widely circulated a petition to the United Nations asking them to officially recognize World Oceans Day as 8 June each year. Having tens of thousands of people sign the petition helped make possible the passage of a resolution by the UN General Assembly in late 2008 that officially recognized World Oceans Day.
What about your own town, city, district, province, state, or nation? Getting official recognition on any of these levels is a great way to help spread the message to your entire community and encourage more widespread celebrations of the ocean and its importance in our everyday lives.
This guide is meant to lead you through the process of campaigning for official recognition, so you can add your own community to the growing list of those around the world celebrating our shared ocean on June 8 every year!
5 Steps Towards Community Recognition
Step One: Develop your strategy
What level of government will you target: town or city, district, province, state, or nation? Can you contact community leaders directly (e.g. your city’s mayor) or will you start a grassroots campaign to get their attention? Choose your goal and your audience, and plan accordingly.
- Check out this Planning to Win guide if you need more guidance in coming up with your plan!
- One option, with resources and templates outlined in the steps below, is to write an initial letter to a community leader, create and collect signatures on a petition, and send the petition with a follow-up letter that shows your community’s support.
Step Two: Recruit your partners
What help will you need to carry out your plan? Are there organizations or companies that would be interested in supporting your effort? Gather friends and volunteers from schools and extracurricular clubs, local organizations, and other community groups to join your cause.
Step Three: Gather your resources
Based on the strategy you’ve come up with, think about what tools you’ll need to carry it out. These tools could be flyers and posters, letters to government representatives, online or physical petitions to gather signatures, etc.
- For letter-writing directly to decision-makers, here is an initial letter template you may use to ask government representatives to recognize World Oceans Day
- You can create an online petition through iPetitions, Change.org, or even on Twitter: supporters “sign” by re-tweeting (tips below)
- Feel free to use these World Oceans Day promotional materials, including graphics and posters
Tips for a good petition: set a compelling and achievable goal, a number of signatures to reach, use slogans like “Take part” or “Take action,” use social media to spread the petition and recruit supporters. Follow up with offline action (like letters to government representatives), and make sure the petition is delivered directly to the decision-maker you are targeting.
Step Four: Start your campaign!
Now that you have your strategy, initial supporters, and resources, you can start your campaign! Consider sending out a press release to announce the campaign, begin collecting signatures, reach out to your target level of government (e.g. the mayor of your city) with an initial letter (see template in Step Three), or start reaching out to your contacts.
Tips for a press release: choose newspapers, online news sources, or TV stations in your community and find the Editor in charge of the section relevant to your content. Also consider submitting your press release to bloggers and organizations that may be interested in your cause, like a local environmental conservancy. See here for more specifics on writing and here for submitting a press release.
Step Five: Follow up
Send a follow-up letter to the community leader you contacted initially, using your petition to show that you have widespread community support! You can use this follow-up letter template. Consider submitting a public statement to local media. Register your campaign and/or the official proclamation as a World Oceans Day celebration ― we want to share your hard work so others can be inspired to campaign for official recognition too! Following your successful campaign, thank those responsible for making it happen: local government, supporting partners and volunteers, those who signed your petition, and anyone who shared a press release or public statement on your behalf. Public thanks goes a long way towards ensuring that those responsible continue to do more to help bring about a better future.
Over the years, multiple cities including the town of Sooke in British Columbia and the city of Santa Barbara in California have officially recognized World Oceans Day in their communities. Reach out to your local leaders to get World Oceans Day officially recognized in your community this year!