An engaging and diverse group of international experts, youth leaders and change makers came together in the 3rd summit to tackle the challenges facing our ocean, and to develop and share solutions that promote the restoration of ocean health.
Philippe Cousteau, Multi Emmy-Nominated TV host and producer, award winning author and co-founder of Earth Echo International:
“Today we need to be much savvier and recognize we have to go to our audience. So we need to be thinking about a much broader spectrum of education and PR communications. We need to be on scripted television. We need to be in animated and leveraging technology like virtual reality, not just your natural history documentaries, which isn’t enough anymore. So you’d be thinking bigger, broader and more diverse.”
“I believe that we need to be thinking more about how we build relevance around these issues. People relate to people. And so understanding these world leaders that when we talk about ocean conservation, we’re talking about climate change… We should be talking more about how this is impacting people and impacting people’s lives. Not in the future. But right now.”
The aim of the summits
The Ocean Race Summits aim to bring the spirit and values of ocean racing – leadership, resilience, tenacity, collaboration – to bear on the challenges facing the health of our ocean.
Using an innovative and engaging online platform, including eight collaborative Action Labs focused on developing and sharing solutions, as well as Live Q+A and Networking sessions, the Summit tackled challenging issues head-on with an emphasis on action and results.
“The ocean is the most important ecosystem in our life,” said José María Figueres, the former prime minister of Costa Rica and co-founder of Ocean Unite. “Without a healthy ocean there is no life on the planet.”
Mr. Figueres pointed to increasing the number of Marine Protected Areas, stopping climate change, and reaching an international agreement on governance of the High Seas as critical pathways towards restoring ocean health.
World renowned sailors Mark Towill (USA), CEO of the 11th Hour Racing Team, and Peter Burling (NZL), an Olympic gold medalist and America’s Cup winner who was inspired to start an ocean foundation after competing in the 2017-18 edition of The Ocean Race, spoke about leveraging sport to make a positive impact.
“We want to demonstrate that being competitive at top level sport and prioritizing sustainability are not exclusive,” Towill said. “It is to our benefit to be leaders in this space and to encourage others to join in… We’re at a tipping point and we want our team to be driving change.”
“What scared me most during the last edition of The Ocean Race was what I didn’t see – the lack of whales, albatross, tuna, compared to the stories I heard about in the past,” said Burling, a co-founder of Live Ocean, which focuses on ocean protection and restoration. “The difference to where we are now is pretty scary and it shows how urgent the issue is.”
A partner in 11th Hour Racing
The Ocean Race Summits have been developed in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing, an organization that establishes strategic partnerships to promote collaborative, systemic change benefitting the health of the ocean. Co-founder, Wendy Schmidt (USA), explained how this moment is a critical opportunity to contribute to science and to shift public perception about what ocean health means.
“At 11th Hour Racing we’re working with The Ocean Race to reach audiences around the world – whether online, at Summits, or at Exploration Zones at stopover cities during the next Race – and changing their perceptions,” said Schmidt, who is a philanthropist and investor, as well as a competitive sailor.
“Together we have a unique opportunity to join the sport we love with the science we need for the ocean.”
Youth leaders and young ocean ambassadors were enlisted to moderate Live Q+A sessions with panelists and registered participants, with the future leaders showing the potential for a brighter future.
“I am hopeful because there is a wave of renewed interest in ocean issues, especially among the younger generations,” concluded Mr. Figueres. “And I am very optimistic because the more we share knowledge about these issues, as is an objective of The Ocean Race, the more we become committed to these causes.”
The Ocean Race Summits are a series of solutions-focused events bringing together leaders from a wide range of fields to target the restoration of ocean health. The current series of Summits started in Genoa, Italy last autumn, with a second online and virtual event based out of The Hague in May. Up to ten events will be held before the conclusion of the next edition of The Ocean Race.
The Ocean Race is onboard
Richard Brisius, Race Chairman, The Ocean Race says, “There are more questions than answers, but I am optimistic and hopeful for a bright future, in particular after this Summit filled with people driven by their aspiration to contribute to a healthier planet.
“And we must not waiver now, we have to stay on course, as it is often during the hard times that we see teams win races, thanks to great leadership, team spirit, and just pushing harder towards what they believe in.
“If I would ask for one thing that you all can do right now, that would be to pick one solution or learning from the Summit, and tell your colleagues, family and friends about it”.
[The Debrief: The Ocean Race Summit Newport]