The International Pacific Marine Educators Network (IPMEN) is a developing collective of marine educators and scientists throughout the Pacific. The idea for this group began as one of the outcomes of a two-day meeting, called the One Ocean Marine Forum (OOMF) on the Hawaiian island of Maui in July 2005. The aim of OOMF was to create a global network of marine educators to share knowledge, expertise and resources to solve ocean related environmental issues. At the 2005 meeting in Hawaii it was decided to further the OOMF goal by first forming a network of Pacific marine educators and scientists as a pilot.
The International Pacific Marine Educators Conference (IPMEC) was then held in 2007 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The main aim of IPMEC was to create this Pacific network. It brought together 100 educators, scientists and community leaders from 18 Pacific nations and territories and resulted in the formation of the International Pacific Marine Educators Network (IPMEN).
One of the main ways IPMEN has developed as an effective network is by inviting marine educators and scientists to meet every two years. The first IPMEN conference was held in Australia in October 2008. IPMEN ’08 in Townsville was also held in parallel with the second International Youth Coastal Conference (IYCC). With 300 young delegates attending the 2008 IYCC in Townsville and sharing key components of IPMEN 2008 we were able to the successfully address the IPMEN 2008 conference theme “Sustaining the Pacific: Learning from Elders, Listening to Youth”.
- The second IPMEN conference was held in Fiji in July 2010. 80 IPMEN delegates met in Fiji in July 2010. The conference theme for IPMEN 2010 was “Vakarau ni se siga toka – Marine education in the new millennium”. Vakarau ni se siga toka is something Fijian elders used to say (and still do today, but rarely), which translated means “Start preparing while we’ve still got daylight.”
- The third IPMEN conference was held in Chile in November 2012.
- The fourth IPMEN conference was held in Japan in July 2014.
- Planning for the fifth IPMEN conference to be held in Indonesia in 2016 is now underway.
The establishment and subsequent growth of IPMEN is one response to the pressures from a rapidly growing world population that is increasing at an exponential rate. From CO2 concentrations that accelerate global climate change to global depletion of fishery stocks, the problems facing Pacific communities are unprecedented and will require innovative solutions. IPMEN also aims to facilitate real action in environmental education and highlight the need for ocean stewardship across the Pacific.
Piloting a cooperative network of Pacific marine educators, via IPMEN was seen as a first step towards the goal of establishing a worldwide network of marine educators. This goal has been achieved and there is now an effective international network that involves close collaboration between the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) in the USA, the marine and coastal special interest group of the Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE), the European Marine Science Education Association (EMSEA) and many other national or local groups.