ZMT's Capacity Development Conference in Berlin | Photo: Oliver Lang

Ocean Literacy, Equity and Leadership

Thematic focus

PA 5 is about exchanging knowledge[1], developing capacities[2] and partnerships that are required for sustainable oceans and coasts for generations to come. PA 5 is a driving force at ZMT for societal impact and it strategically addresses the need for transformative research, knowledge, skills, personal connections and attitude/values for change. In this context, PA 5 supports the four other PAs with its expertise, e.g. via the Office for Knowledge Exchange and the ZMT Academy, and continuously challenges academia in pursuing relevant work with societal impacts. The core of the work conducted in PA 5 is defined by the three concepts of ocean literacy, ocean equity and blue leadership:

  • Ocean Literacy: Ocean literacy[3] within academia and beyond is required to change humanity’s relationship with oceans and coasts. ZMT follows a holistic approach in supporting individuals, organisations and societies in improving capacities and knowledge for the protection and sustainable use of tropical coastal ecosystems.
  • Ocean Equity: Goods and services provided by the ocean are currently distributed inequitable. Resulting impacts on the environment, human health and welfare are challenges of today and tomorrow. Transformation of our coastal futures comes with a responsibility for ZMT in research, knowledge exchange and training. This includes but is not limited to a sustainable and equitable Blue Economy, and equitable access to data, information, knowledge and technology for partners and society.
  • Blue Leadership: The Ocean and coastal areas require a responsible leadership that oversees challenges and threats and acts effectively in a responsible, creative way for the ocean, not over the ocean. In each region, country and institution on all levels of society responsible leaders are required that can relate to manifold challenges, develop and implement innovative, sustainable solutions. ZMT supports this in creating international and inter- and transdisciplinary networks of partners to learn from each other, develop skills and joint visions together. 

[1] Cf.: ZMT OKE

[2] Cf. ZMT Academy:

[3] ZMT applies the definition of Ocean Literacy as introduced by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission: ‘Ocean literacy within the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable development: a framework for action, 2021, Paris, UNESCO, (IOC Ocean Decade Series, 22)’. In addition to that, a general definition of Ocean Literacy as ‘the understanding of the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean’ can be found here: Cava, Francesca, S. Schoedinger, C. Strang, and P. Tuddenham. (2005). Science Content and Standards for Ocean Literacy: A Report on Ocean Literacy. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.12126.84804