Photography by Claudia Rossini
Photography by Claudia Rossini
Photography by Claudia Rossini
Photography by Claudia Rossini
Photography by Claudia Rossini
Photography by Claudia Rossini

EDUCATION IS A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT: THIS IS THE THIRD EDITION OF SEA BEYOND

Prada Group and UNESCO expand their powerful initiative.

There are hundreds of theories about how our future might look like. One thing is for sure: our planet might survive but will humans too? With the goal to really make a change and to empower young generations to help us, the UNESCO and Prada Group collaborated with the Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (Libraries without Borders) to announce their third edition of SEA BEYOND, an educational program dedicated to the dissemination of ocean literacy and ocean preservation. More than 34,000 students in 56 countries will benefit from this training this year. The program aims for a global interconnectedness to make information and education accessible, believing in the idea that the 21st century is about knowledge and providing it all communities, especially the ones with least access and possibilities. The realization of the major need for access goes hand in hand with the understanding that we have to find solutions to the greatest challenges we have ever been faced with. By providing space to students and help guiding them simultaneously, we not only will understand how much we still have to learn but also what we can achieve, together. Is only an organic realization that we must invest into this conversation and exchange.

It was last week, that Prada and the UNESCO invited to a press conference in the impressive buildings of the UNESCO’s headquarter in Paris to present their third edition of the SEA BEYOND that will focus on the interrelation between the ocean and climate, and the associated environmental challenges.

It will offer ocean literacy training sessions for students and teachers and include live lessons with UNESCO ocean and climate experts.

The program will run from January to June 2024 and end with an international contest, as per the previous editions. For the conference, Vladimir Ryabinin, assistant director general of Unesco and Unesco/Ioc Executive Secretary, Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Patrick Weil, Founder and President of Bibliothèques Sans Frontières and Alessandro Baricco, contemporary writer and public intellectual, discussed the extreme profound vision of this project: “Humanity depends on the ocean, but the future of the ocean is in jeopardy due to human activity. If we want to succeed in saving it, we must support scientific research, advance knowledge but also invest in education. This program supported by UNESCO and Prada Group, is a very positive example of how to raise awareness among younger generations and move towards virtuous practices”, explains Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director-General. With the ocean being not only a major oxygen provider but also a carbon and heat sink, absorbing 90% of excess and 30% of human-induced CO2 emissions, we still haven’t really figured out what the role of the ocean is for humankind and its life on planet earth. 

The power of this program originates in particular from the fact, that the UNESCO is the only United Nations agency to have a mandate for ocean science and education. 

We have to talk about our future, louder, more often, with more excitement and curiosity, especially within industries like fashion, being one of the most polluting industries in the world as we all know. “It is essential to understand that without education and culture it is not possible to bring about real change,” states Lorenzo Bertelli. The dimension of responsibility we carry becomes bigger and bigger, something that also the Italian powerhouse Prada Group understood. SEA BEYOND is supported by 1% of the proceeds from the Prada Re-Nylon Collection. So what exactly is SEA BEYOND and what did the Bibliothèques Sans Frontières contributed to this year’s program? SEA BEYOND is a program supported by Prada Group since 2019 that aims to raise the awareness about sustainability and ocean preservation. Countries and schools can apply for it viA open call. The vision behind is clear: Only together, we can move into a safe future. SEA BEYOND establishes itself as an open platform that welcomes third-party projects with ocean preservation principles at the core. The project has contributed to the progress of ocean education on a global scale, through a series of training initiatives dedicated to younger generations. From 2023, SEA BEYOND extended its scope beyond education with two new areas of focus: support for scientific research dissemination and humanitarian projects, both dedicated to the ocean. Within the framework of SEA BEYOND, Prada Group also trained its more than 14,000 employees worldwide on ocean literacy principles, via VR learning contents and the AWorld app, the official platform selected by the United Nations to live more sustainably.

The new partnership with the international international non-profit organization Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (Libraries without Borders) aims to facilitate access to ocean education for children and young citizens in vulnerable communities through the Ideas Box, a mobile multimedia centre of over 100 square meters including internet connection, tablets, laptops and over 250 books and games, as well as hundreds of training materials.

The Ideas Box concept was initially developed by French designer Philippe Starck for Bibliothèques Sans Frontières back in 2014 and today 115 communities all over the world benefit from it.

“Prioritizing this challenge and giving access to ocean education is a matter of social justice, ensuring that all individuals have the opportunity to be informed about crucial environmental issues, become familiar with the ocean, and realize their potential as citizens”, says Patrick Weil, Founder and President of Bibliothèques Sans Frontières. The power and intelligence of these boxes is that they are individually composed and curated for different the needs, cultures, countries. In Bangladesh’s biggest refugee camp for example, they have turned into a whole school system. Another powerful thing participants were able to witness is the ripple effect that comes along: In some countries even parents participated and were able to gain the education they needed, together with the children. The best participates age? There is none! By liberating ourselves and detaching from excuses, these are projects that give hope for a better future.

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