How to Get Official Community Recognition for World Oceans Day

The United Nations began to officially recognize World Oceans Day as June 8th each year following a resolution passed in late 2008, and people around the world have been unofficially celebrating since the idea for World Oceans Day was introduced in 1992 at the Rio Summit ― but 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 8th 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 Step Three, 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 to the community leader

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 need to carry it out. These tools could be flyers and posters, letters to government representatives, online or physical petitions to gather signatures, a phone call sheet, etc.

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, begin outreach 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 (see template in Step Three), using your petition to show that you have widespread community support! 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.

Not convinced you can do it? 

Find inspiration in the story of the group of Girl Scouts who pushed to make Hawaii the first U.S. state to recognize World Oceans Day.

Using the petition and letter templates on The Ocean Project website, the girls collected signatures from the public for several months and reached out to state Representative Lyla Berg and Senator Clarence Nishihara. Representative Berg and Senator Nishihara introduced a resolution to the Hawaii State House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively, to officially recognize and celebrate World Oceans Day.

Thanks to support from the Committee on Water and Land, chaired by Senator Hee, the 2008 Hawaii Legislature passed the Resolution recognizing World Oceans Day for the calendar year. At the request of the legislators and with the support of Kai Makana, The Nature Conservancy, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and individuals in the community, the girls of Troop 401 contacted Senator Hee and Representative Berg again in November 2008 to request that they file an amendment to the state statute in the first week of the new 2009 Legislature. 

The amendment, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate, officially changed the old state holiday of Ocean Day to World Oceans Day on June 8th every year, making Hawaii the first state in the USA to officially recognize World Oceans Day. Hawaii Girl Scout Troop 401 is so excited to see their efforts come to a positive result.

The Ocean Project extends an ocean of thanks to Chanel, Nika, and Sabina, their troop leader, Teri Skillman, and the inspiration behind it all, Donna Kahakui.

Alexandra Thomsen 28-Mar-2016