Hub early-career researcher delivers the first Climate Classroom dedicated to the ocean at COP28  

By Milica Prokic

On 13 December 2023, Hub’s early–career researcher, Holly Niner (University of Plymouth, UK), delivered the first Climate Classroom dedicated to the ocean at Climate COP28. The Climate Classrooms are envisaged as “pop-up learning sessions held during major climate change conferences” covering key climate change topics for a wide audience, including negotiators and other delegates. 266 people attended the session, making it the most successful Hub-led online event.

The Climate Classroom is a cornerstone of the One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership’s (UN CC:Learn) work to build climate literacy around the world and for many have become a highlight in the COP calendar. The Climate Classroom at COP28 was the series’ 11th edition and its largest yet with nearly 6,000 total participants from 121 countries attending classes over the course of the two weeks. 

“This year’s program aligned with the COP28 thematic priorities and included classes on The Global Stocktake, Loss and Damage and Climate Finance – and for the first time Climate Change and the Oceans”, Colm Hastings, the Green Economy Consultant at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) says.  

Session highlighting current progress and future priorities for ocean governance attracted nearly 300 participants  

Holly’s Climate Classroom session included an introduction to how the ocean, particularly ocean health, is related to climate change, the critical relationship between people and the ocean (and climate) and current progress/future priorities for ocean governance.  

“The central message is that people are inextricably dependent on a healthy ocean, not least for the regulation of climate and the provision of planetary conditions that support human wellbeing and survival. With ocean health in decline its ability to perform critical roles is set at risk and these broadscale trends of decline are not robustly overseen by current sectorally-focussed governance of human activity”, Holly describes.  

A system approach to adequately consider the cumulative pressures on the ocean is needed for effective protection. The session highlighted, that whilst the BBNJ (Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty) negotiations and Agreement have gone someway to raise these issues, what remains outstanding is how commitments will be put into practice to secure the many ways that people are connected to the ocean (See the Hub’s Special Issue article on BBNJ here). 

Holly’s session was held shortly after the Nature, Land and Oceans thematic day, that was attended by 266 people, thus positioning the ocean squarely as the core theme in the global conversation on climate change. 

Related SDGs:

  • Good health and well-being
  • Climate action
  • Life below water