The Ocean Race Summit in Newport, RI, USA, gathered over 680 registered participants from around the world on Wednesday, as well as a diverse and engaging group of international expert speakers, to develop and share solutions to restore ocean health.
Using an innovative and interactive online platform, including eight collaborative Action Labs, the Summit tackled challenging issues head-on with a focus 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 his environmental foundation, Live Ocean, after competing in The Ocean Race in 2017-18, 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. “The difference to where we are now is scary and shows how urgent the issue is.”
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.”
“For many generations, we have been takers from the ocean and we have to change our mindset and be caretakers of the oceans,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island).
“People have to put their mind to think about oceans in order to appreciate the work that needs to be done. But it can be done. It has to be done rapidly and with intention. But we can solve this.”