On 6 February 2020, Ciné-ONU screened ‘Blue’ in partnership with Oceana at Cinéma Galeries in Brussels to highlight Ocean Week 2020 and the forthcoming UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon.
Blue tells the story of industrialization in the oceans over the last century, mirroring events that triggered mass extinctions on land. Industrial-scale fishing, habitat destruction, species loss and pollution have placed the ocean in peril. The very nature of the sea is being irretrievably altered. Blue portrays the harm humans have had on the ocean but concludes with a sense of optimism on how to restore balance, particularly in accordance with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Following the screening, there was a panel discussion with LeoNotHappy, a local Belgian activist, Nicolas Fournier, Policy Advisor at Oceana Europe and Thierry Lucas, Senior Programme Officer at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Brussels office, moderated by Deborah Seward, Director of the UN Regional Information Center.
Nicolas Fournier commented on the importance of the film’s message that “everyone can act, we have the means to act now.”
LeoNotHappy explained how his work demonstrated the impact one individual can have through activism in the streets and viral online campaigns. On one of his street cleans, he and other activists managed to collect 270,000 cigarette butts on the streets of Brussels in just two hours. He went on to highlight the devastating impact cigarette butts can have on our oceans.
This fed into a wider discussion of how our actions in cities can have an impact on the ocean, particularly our plastic use and waste disposal. All of the panellists recognised the importance of “reconnecting people with their oceans.” To achieve this we must begin to change our methods of consumption, and more must be done to bring about a circular economy in which damaging materials such as plastic are re-used and re-cycled more effectively.
Thierry Lucas noted that “17% of species are endangered by plastics.” However, he did highlight the positive work that UNEP has been doing: “In some countries and with some governments we have seen fantastic results.” LeoNotHappy and Nicolas Fournier joined in with this lasting note of optimism commenting on how every individual can make a difference, “you either accept it or you just try. Try to improve the situation.”