Francesca Santoro

Francesca is Senior Programme Officer for Ocean Literacy at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO where she is also coordinated the Ocean Literacy With All UN Ocean Decade Programme. Francesca holds a PhD in analysis and governance for sustainable development from the School for Advanced Studies in Venice (SSAV) with specialization in marine environmental sciences, marine governance, science education and communication. Francesca joined UNESCO in 2011, and before she worked as lecturer for the University Ca' Foscari of Venice. She worked as well for several international research centers such as the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change, the International Marine Centre, the National Oceanography Centre, and the Joint Research Centre.


The Intergovernmental Oceanograhic Commission of UNESCO  promotes international cooperation and coordinates programmes in research, services and capacity-building, in order to learn more about the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas and to apply that knowledge for the improvement of management, sustainable development, the protection of the marine environment, and the decision-making processes of its Member States.

Presentation overview

Many people are unaware of the importance of the ocean and its intrinsic connection to life on Earth. The ocean provides the oxygen we breathe and absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and is crucial for many processes in Earth systems such  as  food  supply  and  climate  regulation.  It  is  also  essential  for  humanity  as  it  contributes  to  diverse  aspects  of  our  economy,  well-being,  politics,  medicine,  global trade, food, recreation, cultural heritage and many other sectors. Ocean  Literacy  has  grown  to  encompass  more  than  educating  or  informing  the  public  or  marine  and  maritime  stakeholders  about  the  importance  of  the  ocean.  Ocean  Literacy  is  radically  evolving  from  its  initial  application  in  formal  educational contexts into an approach for society as a whole that catalyzes actions to protect, conserve and sustainably use the ocean. The  inclusion  of  Ocean  Literacy  in  the  curriculum  creates  what  is  hereafter  referred to as a ‘blue curriculum’, helping learners to understand the importance of ocean life and features (physical, chemical, geological, etc.) and ocean–human interactions, and underscoring that the ocean is part of the planet. By enhancing schools’,  teachers’  and  students’  knowledge  about  the  ocean,  in  turn,  a  blue  curriculum may advance knowledge and show the need to preserve and care for ocean  resources,  therefore  supporting  better  decision-making  by  society  as  a  whole.