Mobilizing Youth Leaders in the #RaceForRatification

Date: 25th March 2024

By Sean Russell

Around the world our ocean planet faces enormous challenges. Growing up in a coastal community as a young person active in marine science, conservation and education initiatives, I saw firsthand the impacts of human activities on our ocean, as well as the power of the ocean as a source of solutions to challenges including the climate crisis. With so much at stake, we can no longer afford to write off young people as leaders of the future. Young people must play a central leadership role in building the public and political momentum to advance ambitious ocean conservation action. As evidenced by social movements, across generations, young people bring an incredible ability to mobilize their peers and communities to action. They bring this action, along with innovative ideas and a sense of urgency to this work, understanding they will have to live with the consequences of action or inaction on these topics. Additionally, the involvement of youth leaders at an early age ensures the long term durability of the conservation priorities we’re working to advance. 

As EarthEcho International’s Director of Youth Engagement, I have the incredible privilege to witness the power of youth-driven action to advance ocean protection and restoration on a daily basis. Over the past several years, our global network of young ocean advocates at EarthEcho have played a central role in building momentum to advance ocean protections and the global goal of protecting at least 30% of the ocean by the year 2030 (30×30) by mobilizing their peers and community members to build support for this work, and by directly engaging with government officials to advance these targets. 

The High Seas Treaty provides a critical opportunity to realize these ocean protection goals, and sets the stage for marine protected areas in ocean waters outside of national boundaries. As we mark the one year anniversary of the Treaty agreement this month, and with the #RaceForRatification on to ensure at least sixty countries ratify the Treaty in order for it to become international law, we recognize the power young people have in bringing this goal to fruition.

With this in mind, EarthEcho International is thrilled to partner with the High Seas Alliance to launch the 2024 High Seas Youth Ambassadors program. This unique, paid, Ambassadorship experience will equip young ocean advocates ages 17-22, from key regions around the world, with the training and support to develop and implement innovative campaigns in their countries to build momentum for High Seas Treaty ratification. Ambassadors will receive campaign planning training and mentorship from EarthEcho International and strategy guidance and support from the High Seas Alliance, as they collaborate with their peers to bring these campaigns to life. Applications for the 2024 High Seas Youth Ambassadors program are open through March 27. Interested applicants can learn more and complete their application at:

Beyond the core Ambassador program, we invite young ocean advocates globally to engage in building momentum for the High Seas Treaty and future High Seas Marine Protected Areas in their countries. Young ocean advocates ages 13-25 can join GenSea, EarthEcho’s digital community platform which connects participants from over 100 countries for year round networking, learning, and collective action to advance ocean protection efforts, including the High Seas Treaty ratification. By being part of this network, you’ll have access to resources and action opportunities to drive this work in your local community, while sharing your impact and lessons learned with others. The launch of the 2024 Ambassador program is just the beginning! Together, EarthEcho and the High Seas Alliance are committed to providing the tools, training, and ongoing support to ensure youth voices are heard and central in the #RaceForRatification campaign. We know the leadership, innovative ideas, and perspectives of young ocean advocates are critical to building the momentum needed to ensure swift ratification of the High Seas Treaty, as well as the long term engagement to advance ambitious ocean protections. We look forward to uplifting this work together! 

Sean Russell is the Director of Youth Engagement at EarthEcho International. EarthEcho’s mission is to build a global youth movement to protect and restore our ocean planet, a critical part of creating a sustainable and equitable future for all.


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