EUROPEAN UNION OF AQUARIUMS CURATORS Conference 2019 october 14 - 18

A general theme: Aquariums in a changing world

In a rapidly-changing world, both environmental and societal, aquariums must evolve to better meet the expectations of their audiences. Their mission – spread awareness on the marine environment, increase understanding of its importance and the need to preserve it – must take into account these upheavals and accompany them.

Articulated around the 3 sub-themes:

1. Societal change

The relationship between society and nature, and especially animals, has changed. The awareness of the vulnerability of the living world and the intensification of human pressures on the environment has increased the number of movements against maintaining animals in captivity, by highlighting animal suffering or environmental damage. 

At the same time, the demand of citizens to be heard and to influence decisions continues to increase. 

In this context, it is essential that aquariums communicate effectively about their specific role as central places of exchange, education, awareness and preservation of species.

2. Climate change 

Climate change is the main factor of global environmental change. 

Public concerns about climate change is increasing, but our audience is confused about how to respond to this phenomenon. 

The central role of the ocean is also still largely unknown. Aquariums can underline the function of climate regulation provided by the ocean, informing about the latest scientific knowledge on sea changes and the consequences on human communities, but also raising public awareness of the steps that can be taken to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

3. Change affecting biodiversity

Biodiversity is undergoing unprecedented major upheaval, including in the ocean. Aquariums are at the forefront of preserving marine species and ecosystems. Better knowledge of the biology of species, the functioning of marine ecosystems, reproduction techniques and breeding methods contribute to this objective. These actions can be done in-situ (in the field) or ex-situ (in our aquariums). Technical and financial support for conservation programmes and partnerships with marine conservation organisations also help to raise awareness and mobilize our audience.

With a cross-cutting theme

The position of aquariums as mediators between science and the general public means that they are catalysts for change on several aspects:

  • Public engagement: initiate dialogue on the importance of transforming our habits.
  • Scientific information: initiate and drive the dissemination of information to encourage participation in the United Nations Decade for Oceanic Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) as a coordinator.
  • Education: turn the tide and improve general knowledge on the seas and oceans (« Ocean literacy »).
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